Sunday, March 29, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 2 Chapter 13. Rosa

Everything moved like a dream. the fire trucks came, slowed by the crowd the police continued to fight to disburse. The other survives of Whitey’s Dugout were all in the care of a team of paramedics, also here in great number.

Rosa refused any help. She stood and watched the fire burn, staring into the red-orange glow of the decimated building. She still hoped that somehow Garrett would find his way out. But he was inside when it blew. No one could survive that.

She knew it was true, even though she hated to think it. Garrett Vos was dead.

“Miss, miss!”

Rosa turned. Her ears still rung, but normal hearing was returning to her. A police officer was speaking to her. He was young, a black man in his early twenties. He couldn’t be older than her, but he did cut a handsome figure in his uniform. He held a black notebook and a concerned look.

“I’m sorry. I-I lost someone inside.”

“I apologize for your loss. But that’s why I need to speak to you. I need to get a statement from you. If we do it here, I can send you on your way.”

She nodded.

“What’s your named.”

She almost threw out “Waterspeed” before she remembered she was out of her costume. “My name is Rosa Acevedo.”

“I’m Officer Kenwood. You can call me Keith.” He gave her a weak smile.

“All right, Keith.”

She quickly covered the events inside Whitey’s Dugout to Keith, glossing over Garrett or her metahuman abilities. That information might just cause more problems. It turned out not to matter. When she had explained Garratt ran back inside, he interrupted.

“Wait, is this the Garrett Vos. That Stomp guy?”


He scribbled down a note. “I’m sorry for your loss. He shouldn’t have ran back inside. That kind of thing is best handled by professionals.”

“Yeah, the professionals.”

“I’m sorry. That was insensitive.”

“No, that’s all right. You’re probably right. I don’t think that fact would have stopped Garrett though.”

“There are always those types. Stomp is pretty well known around town. Do you know of any enemies he had that might have wanted him dead or hurt?”

Only a secret criminal organization that wants to experiment on us.


“How did you know Stomp?”

“He was a friend.”

“Just a friend?”

“Yeah, we only met a little while ago. He was helping me unwind after a couple hard days in my life. This is where he brought me.”

“Was this a scheduled visit? Something that an enemy might know about ahead of time?”

“I don’t think so. Whitey seemed surprised to see Garrett. But you might want to ask him to be sure.”

“One of the senior officers is already speaking with Mister Davi. I’ll make sure to check up with him in a few minutes. Can I get an address and phone number in case we need to ask a few follow up questions?”

She quickly gave him her information. He scribbled it down in his notebook, then closed the little leather bound tablet.

“Thank you for your help, Ms. Acevedo. I can give you a ride home if you would like.”

She turned back to the fire. Rosa felt exhausted. She would need to get a hold of the others, let them know what happened. But right now she really just needed sleep.

“Please. I would really appreciate that.”

Saturday, March 28, 2015

ICONS Character Profile: Stomp

Name: Stomp

Real Name: Garrett Vos

Origin: Transformed

First Appearance: Book One, Chapter 1



Prowess 5

Coordination 3

Strength 9

Intellect 4

Awareness 5

Willpower 2


Stamina 11

Determination 2




Power (leaping)




Danger Sense 5

Leaping 6

-Blast (area affect only)

Regeneration 4



Connections: Riverside Community Center


Identity: Community Leader



Enemy (mysterious organization)

Personal (guilt over father’s death)



Garrett Vos is nothing if not forward. The son of a professional skateboarder and a professional ballet dancer, he learned very early in life that modesty wouldn’t get him anywhere. But something he never did have despite his parentage was much coordination or agility. Garrett was a clumsy kid and much to the disappointment of his parents, showed little interest in either of their pursuits. Instead he focused all his time on video gaming. This was a cause of much discord in the Vos household as Garrett grew up.

After the horrible circumstance that gave him his powers, Garrett set out to change his life and use his new abilities to help his local community. But like his father and mother before him, his interests didn’t lead him down a heroic path but instead in to a more community friendly path. As a local entertainer and community leader, he uses his powers to help teach local youths lessons about life and find ways to improve the low income Riverside area of the city.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 2 Chapter 12. Marilyn

It was cold, so cold. Not like winter, or even a walk-in freezer. It was worse, almost impossible to take. She felt as though her skin should crack and break. That she should die.

But she kept her eyes closed. She trusted Cyrus. She did before she jumped him. And she knew even now, she needed to keep trusting him, even if their current situation seemed completely insane.

Gods and goddesses out of myth? It was crazy. But none of Cyrus’s family seemed stable. And Pluto seemed barely human.

She had to trust him. She had no choice.

The cold seemed to fade. She still felt lost though, as if reality wasn’t around her. She feared it wasn’t, but knew not to dare looking to find out. She clutched Cyrus more tightly. He was her only link to anything real.

She realized the warmth wasn’t a lie. She could feel the sun against her skin, even though that made no sense. It was barely the beginning of the night when they disappeared from River City.

“It’s alright,” Cyrus said. “We’re here.”

Marilyn opened her eyes.

She stood at the edge of a forest. The trees were empty of their leaves, dozens of tiny fingers stretching towards the sky. But they were trees. Oak and birch and willow. It certainly wasn’t her image of hell, biblical or mythological.

“What is this? Where are we?”

“Providence, Rhode Island,” Cyrus said. “Andy Hades, or at least the throne of it.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Hades isn’t a place in the traditional sense. It’s an idea, a concept that exists in Pluto’s very being. My father can move it wherever and whenever he feels. It takes a lot of his power though, so they relocate only once in a great while. Mom made him move to the New World in the early nineteenth century. I always assumed they appreciated the humor of settling in a city called Providence.”

“This is crazy.”

“It’s definitely not normal. It’s not what I wanted one way or another.”

Persephone walked towards them, stopped before them. She looked Marilyn up and down with what could only be described as disdain.

“Son, you’ve humored your consort long enough. We need to convene in the main hall. We have much to discuss over dinner, before the trial begins.”

Cyrus nodded. He turned, pulling Marilyn around with him.

As she turned, the plantation house came into view.

“It’s huge.”

The house was in the Southern antebellum tradition. Pillars filled the front area, surrounding dozens of windows and a gorgeous set of double doors.

She realized that she stood on the massive front lawn of a secluded home. The forest was just to block the house from the main room. A winding path led around it, obviously the drive way for the ancient house.

“It’s beautiful.”

“Beauty often masks corruption,” Cyrus said. “This estate is no different. My parents can pretend to be generations of owners, but it’s just another lie. Another salve over the pain.”


“It’s a plantation. Only Hades House doesn’t grow cotton; it only breeds suffering. Everyone that works inside is a lost soul. My father makes them work to just get there, but takes pleasure from their continued torture. It fuels him.”

“And your mother?”

“She’s a harvest goddess that married the lord of the dead. That’s weird even for an Olympian. She has her own sadistic streak, only she saves hers for her family.”

They walked up the half a dozen steps on to the massive porch. Despite Cyrus’s warnings, Marilyn found it hard to look past the sheer opulence of everything around her.

The door opened as they approached. It seemed to move on its own, free of any contact. She wondered if it was mechanized or just part of the magic of the place.

A chill rushed down her back as they passed through the door. she suddenly felt light headed. The room started to shift under her.

She stumbled, nearly fell. Cyrus caught her, but the world was already changing around her.

It wasn’t a house at all. It was a pit. Darkness surrounded her, thousands of souls whispered in despair.

They cried out for redemption, freedom, forgiveness and a thousand more desires. But there was no helping them. They could not be saved from the agony. Not by her, maybe not by anyone.

Cyrus’s voice echoed through her skull.

“Marilyn, can you hear me? Marilyn?”

She blinked off the vision. She was back inside the house, back in reality or some modicum of reality at least.

Cyrus helped her back to her feet. Marilyn clutched at her forehead as the room slowly stopped spinning.

“I was somewhere else,” she said. “Somewhere dark and horrible.”

“I don’t know how, but you saw the reality of my father’s kingdom. No mortal should be able to walk in that realm.”

“I’m not just any other mortal.”

“No,” Cyrus said with just the hint of a smile. It was the first time Marilyn could remember seeing even the hint of happiness in him. “No, you certainly are not.”

“Sir, are you and the lady all right?”Marilyn looked up in the face of an older man, perhaps in his early sixties. His head was bald and he wore a finely pressed suit. His posture and perfect white gloves made him seem more like a caricature of a butler more than an actual one. But Marilyn was becoming more accustomed to this kind of thing. It seemed Cyrus’s world was filled with one odd thing after another.

“No, Stark. Everything is quite all right.”

“Excellent, sir. If I may, dinner awaits in the next room. You will be expected to dress for the occasion. I can summon a matron to assist the lady—”

“That won’t be necessary,” Marilyn said.

“Take us to a wardrobe and we can change together,” Cyrus said.

“Sir, it wouldn’t be proper—”

“It will be alright, Stark. Just do as I say.”

“Yes, sir. Please follow me.”

Cyrus took Marilyn by the hand as they walked towards the long staircase at the back of the entrance hall.

The hall alone was massive, large enough to hold her apartment twice over, maybe three times.

Cyrus leaned in close to her. “We have maybe thirty minutes until dinner. We will have to change and come up with a plan. It will be the only chance we have. Understand?”

“I understand. Let’s do this.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 2 Chapter 11. Peach

Peach slowly awoke. Fingers traced across her skin. They started just below her neck and worked down across her left collarbone. They traced around her bare breast and slowly down her side.

She opened her eyes and saw Ian looking at her. His fingers continued to trace the snake tattoo that traveled down her side. His fingers continued down to the reptile’s tail at her belly button. But his hand didn’t stop there.

It slowly edged down past the tattoo and across the small cleft of hair between her legs. It found the folds below. She was still wet, still ready. She couldn’t suppress her moan.

“Hey,” Ian said. His hand continued to work between her legs. Her opinion of his skills rose as he rubbed her all the right ways.

“Hey yourself,” she said. She stared deeply into Ian’s haunted green eyes. She knew he was still troubled, still felt lost. She only hoped their fun might serve as a brief respite from whatever was eating at him.

She grabbed his neck and pulled his lips down to hers. He kissed her hungrily. She could tell he was ready again, but this time was moving slower, more deliberate. He was more interested in her pleasure than his own.

I might have to keep this one, she thought. But she knew it was just a pipe dream. No man could ever be hers for long nor any woman. It would be too dangerous.

His mouth left her lips. It found her neck a second later. Ian planted gentle kisses there, grazed his teeth across her throat. She moaned again. He took this as an invitation.

His teeth sank in to her neck as his fingers continued to work inside her folds. She groaned. He kept his pace steady.

The little bastard definitely knows what he’s doing. It was the last thought to pass through her head before her climax overtook her.

But Ian wasn’t done with her. He slid down the hide-a-bed, trailing kisses down her flesh. He met her eyes as he lowered his face towards the cleft between her legs.

She immediately went off as his lips ran across her nether lips. She was already sensitive from her previous orgasms. She knew he would have no trouble getting her off again and again.

And that seemed to be his plan. His tongue slipped between her lips. He found her nub and flicked it with the tip of his tongue. She reached down to grab his head as he brought her off again.

Peach pulled Ian up and over her. They met eyes again. “You sure you haven’t done this before?”

“Not that I remember.”

“You’re a fucking natural then?”

“A fucking natural,” Ian said with a wide grin.

“Oh shut up,” Peach said with a playful shove. The push was enough to send him back just a few inches. Peach used the clearance to quickly roll over.

She pushed herself up on her hands and knees. She looked back at Ian. His eyes were on her backside, more specifically on the elaborate tattoo collage that traveled down her back and on to her ass.

“Well, you just going to stare or prove to me how good you are?”

Ian didn’t need a second invitation. He moved in close. She reached back to guide him in. He slid in easily and bottomed out.

She moaned with pleasure at the sudden invasion. He took this as an invitation. He started slow, but that didn’t last long. Within a minute, he was pounding into her. This set her off again.

“God, yes. Keep going. Give it to me, Ian!”

He stopped short suddenly. Peach groaned in frustration.

“What the hell? Come on—”

As she looked back, she saw Alli.

Alli’s face was a mixture of pain, despair and horror. She stared at Peach and Ian, but Peach could tell she didn’t really see either of them. Her mind was miles away from here, traumatized by something else.

Peach pulled away from Ian. She leaped out of the bed, pulling a sheet with her. She wrapped it around her body as she covered the few short steps to her boss.

Alli had been there for Peach for years. Even when Peach hurt her, Alli hadn’t turned her back. And Peach intended to return the favor as often as possible. This was clearly one of those times.

“Alli, honey, what happened?”

“They’re gone.”

“Who? Who is gone?”

Alli met her eyes for the first time, but she still seemed lost in another place.

“Marilyn and Cyrus.”

“Okay, they weren’t there. I know Marilyn never carries her cell, but what about that Cyrus guy?”

“No, they were there. Only they aren’t now. They’re gone.”

“Where did they go?”

“I don’t know,” Alli said. “I don’t know. One second they were there and the next they were gone.”

“Gone where?” Ian said. He had hurried into his boxers. “They can’t just disappear.”

“I don’t know. They just vanished. They were there with some strange people, then all of them were gone. But it was like magic and I—”

“Dammit, Alli! I said never again.” Peach breathed tightly through gritted teeth. They talked about this. Alli knew what this would do to her.

“I know you did. I know. But you weren’t there. She’s gone, but I know she’s not dead. She’s just somewhere else.”

“And you want me to find her.”

“You’re the only chance I have.”

“You know if she just carried a damn phone we could find her with GPS.”

“I know,” Alli said. Tears streamed down her face. Peach didn’t know what to make of it. As long as they knew each other, she could not remember seeing Alli cry.

She really loves this one. What fools these mortals be.

“All right, but it will cost you.”

“Name your price,” Alli said. “I will do anything.”

“It will cost you another week’s vacation. And a favor.”

“A favor?”

“One without question. You know what that means.”

“Yeah. Done.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, Peach. Please find her.”

She let the sheet drop off her body. Naked, Peach walked across the room. She opened the top most drawer of her storage cabinet. She found the jar of blood that rested inside. She looked at it grimly as she lifted it out.

She hoped she would never have to draw on it again.

She opened it and reached inside. The liquid was thick, ink-like. She rubbed it between her fingers. She could feel the power. She took one long silent breath before she raised it to her lips.

The bitterness of the blood burned against her tongue. But she swallowed it anyway. Peach knew she would need its power to sustain herself.

She concentrated and felt the power deep inside her. Not just in the blood but in the seed as well. It seemed Ian was a man of far greater power than she would ever have suspected. An old soul with strength far beyond an ordinary mortal.

It intrigued her, but it would be a question for another time.

She reached her bloody finger across her naked body. She found the simple arrow embedded in the patterns on her left arm. She traced her fingers across it and summoned its power.

The tattoo lit up with an unearthly glow. She focused on it and channeled the power she held. She felt it flow into the rune mark. Without the blood and seed, she would have to feed it her own life force. Even with them, she could feel the rune pull at the edges of her soul.

She kept the power under control, kept it from overpowering her will. She could not lose her self control, not now.

A place formed in her head. She didn’t recognize it, but with the rune it didn’t matter. It told her exactly where she needed to be.

“Providence, Rhode Island. They are there, only they’re not totally. It’s like they’re struck between there and—and somewhere else. Somewhere not in this world.”

“What does that mean?” Alli said.

“I’m not sure,” Peach said. “But I suspect magic is at work here, though I cannot begin to guess who or how.”

“We need to go there. We have to go help her.”

“Rhode Island is half way across the country,” Peach said. “How are we even going to get there. We’re barely able to pay our bills, remember?”

“I don’t--we need to help her. We need to go.”

“How?” Peach said.

Ian cried out. They turned to see him clutching his skull.

Peach ran to him. She grabbed him, held him tight to keep him from falling. She met his eyes, but he didn’t see her. His pupils were rolled up behind his eyelids.

“Ian, stay with us. Stay focused on reality. Focus and tell us what you see.”

“It’s the man from the file. Barrett. I see him now. He-he’s inside a bank vault.”

“A bank vault?”

“He’s looking for a specific box. No, he’s found it. He’s opening it and taking something out. I’m not sure what.”

“Okay, what else?”


Ian’s knees buckled. Alli helped Peach support. “He—he moved.”


“We’re not in the bank now. We’re in a house, somewhere off King Drive. No, it’s on thirty-third. It’s an apartment over some shop. But that’s not where we were before. We were—”

Ian’s eyes cleared. He blinked them back into focus. He smiled as he met Peach’s eyes.

“We were in Paris I think. Then we were in River City. I don’t understand—”

“He’s a teleporter,” Peach said. “Barrett Nesmith is a teleporter.”

“Then we need to find him,” Alli said.

“But we don’t even know anything about him,” Ian said. “He’s a criminal.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Peach said. “He’s our path out to Rhode Island.”

Saturday, March 21, 2015

River City History: The dawn of the twentieth century

As the twentieth century dawned in River City, the city’s main income turned from industrial endeavors to gambling. The city became a hub of riverboat gambling on the Mississippi. While many former factory workers went to work on the boats, many others went to work as enforcers for the growing criminal enterprises in the city.

Meanwhile, thousands of Irish workers that came to the city for factory work were without jobs. Many turned to criminal pursuits to get by. Several gangs formed by in a matter of months, they were mostly united under the guise of the Murphy Mob, headed by the notorious “Happy” Harry Murphy.

Due to a near death experience in his mid-teens, “Happy” Harry’s face was locked in to an eternal grin, despite his reputation as a cold-blooded killer. “Happy” Harry became de facto leader of the city from the late 1890s well into the 1910s, lording over a series of hand-selected (and often illegally elected) mayors.

Harry would soon rule over gambling, prostitution, opium and marijuana dealing as well as a major protection racket across the Irish blocks of the city. His enforcers, the Rippers, would become known for their use of blades over all else. They would often use “Happy” Harry’s favorite means of dispatching his foes: a slit throat.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 2 Chapter 10. Rosa

Rosa knew baseball. It wasn’t like she never saw the sport in Guadalajara. Honestly, it was everywhere. But that didn’t mean she ever got much of a chance to play it. Or any chance at all really. Her parents rarely focused on enjoyable family activities. Their focus rarely swerved from their narrow-minded view of justice. It definitely didn’t stray to something as casually fun as swinging a bat at a ball.

Now that she faced down the pitching machine, Rosa couldn’t help but be angry at that. Baseball was fun. Lots of fun. And she missed out on it for all these years.

As she continued to wing, it became easier to hit the ball, despite constant variances in the speed and height of each throw. Her control also improved. She didn’t have any problem hitting the fast balls, but as the pitches kept coming, she quickly learned to react to them without the blessing of super speed.

“You’re sure you did this none?” Whitey said.

“Never,” Rosa said.

“Well you are a natural, girl. You could play in any ladies league I’ve ever seen. Maybe even cross the line, play minor league ball. With some training, make it to the top.”

Rosa gave him a smile “I don’t think so. It wouldn’t be—”

The back wall suddenly exploded.

Rosa moved as soon as her eye caught the first sign of the damage, only a thousandth of a second after the damage began. She dropped the bat as she saw the fire slowly bloom. She flashed towards Whitey as she saw the first bits of debris fly towards him.

She grabbed Whitey as the deadly shrapnel flew towards him and her. She pulled the old ballplayer back and away, careful not to whiplash his neck. She dodged the debris as she turned back towards the entrance of the batting cage and Stomp.

Garrett’s eyes were wide as he watched the blooming explosion. At his speed, he would only now be realizing its implication. He was watching his own death.

Rosa pushed Whitey up to her right shoulder. He was heavy, but she knew that without the cancer he probably would have been twice as hefty.

She pushed out her left shoulder as she neared Garrett. She needed to make this count or they would all be dead.

She slammed hard into Garrett’s chest. Her velocity was near Mach One and she knew the impact would probably snap a few ribs. But she also knew it was the only way to get him to move.

Garrett flew back as Rosa kept running with all her might.

The shockwave of the explosion caught her a moment later. Rosa and Whitey sprawled forward at the wave of the force struck her. But even as she fell, she realized they were clear of the deadly debris.

Garrett was on the floor in front of them. He clutched at his side, but otherwise seemed all right.

Whitey had a nasty scratch on his forehead. It bled, but not enough to worry. She knew there was no major artery to worry about there. He found the blood with the back of his hand as she looked up at her. Then he looked past her at the batting cage.

Whitey said something but the echo in her ears made him impossible to understand. It just sounded like a different ringing than the other bells in her ears.

“I don’t understand,” she said. She couldn’t make out her own words either. She knew from experience it would be several minutes before her hearing returned to anything close to normal.

Stomp stood. He rubbed his ribs, but otherwise showed no sign of injury. She thanked God that they were at least still alive. But she couldn’t begin to think what happened here.

Doppelganger’s allies seemed broken. Could they have somehow regrouped? It didn’t make sense for them to do so quite so fast. Nor did killing anyone seem to fit their plans. Whatever they wanted, those men did not seem to want to kill them.

Stomp grabbed her by the shoulder. He leaned in and yelled in to her ear. “We need to make sure everyone is safe!”

Despite his volume, she could only guess at some of his words. Her head ached and she assumed with all likelihood she was concussed. It wasn’t the first time. She hoped she had seen the last, but her lot seemed set to move her into danger again and again.

Stomp pointed back towards the café they entered through, then at Whitey. She understood the signal well enough. She bent down and lifted the old man up again. Stomp turned to go farther in to the facility as she helped Whitey towards the door.

Rosa’s head started to clear as she ushered Whitey through the door. The ringing was down to a dull roar. She could hear flames crackling alone with the trademark smells of the smoke and flames.

A pair of police cars were already in front of the building, as were the patrons from the café area. The police officers were ushering fire trucks through a wave of gawkers and onlookers. The fools were so enamored with getting a glance at the destruction, they would let Whitey’s Dugout just burn.

She helped Whitey over to one of the ladies she recognized as she first entered. Her name was Wendy according to her Dugout nametag and it was followed by “assistant manager”, which made her at least the closest thing to the person in charge of the staff.

“Wendy, help me.” The girl’s attention turned to Rosa for the first time. Then it turned to Whitey.

“Oh my god, is he alright?

She ran to help Rosa carry Whitey to the hood of the nearest cop car. They helped him sit up against the bumper.

“He should be all right,” Rosa told her. “See if you can find something to cover that wound on his head. And make sure he doesn’t do anything foolish.”

“What about you? What are you going to do?”

“Whoever set off the bomb might still be in there. So is my friend. I have to go back inside.”

“Are you crazy? The place is on fire. The firemen—””They can’t do what I can do. Keep Whitey safe, all right?”

The woman nodded.

Rosa turned back to the building. Her head ached. Her concentration would be less than perfect. She took a pair of deep breaths, holding the last. She would need to be careful about breathing inside.

She braced herself to run.

Whitey’s Dugout exploded into a massive fireball. She sprawled to the ground at the impact, but her eyes remained on the building as it burned, a raging inferno that nothing could survive.

“Garrett! Garrett!”

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 2 Chapter 9. Alli

Alli had never been to the Reagan Avenue Apartments, but she knew the address. It wasn’t the hardest part of town, but it wasn’t exactly known for its upscale status. Crime was a regular way of life here, but not the murders and rapes that regular popped up over in Lincoln Heights.

It still wasn’t where she wanted to be, even behind the bullet resistant glass of the Spirit-Mobile.

She dialed in Marilyn’s cell number again, but after four rings it went to voicemail. She rarely carried it and today seemed no different. Cyrus didn’t have one either, at least none he offered.

Why the hell did I let her go with that weirdo? I need to protect her from freaks like him.

The sky suddenly grew dark above the building. She rolled the window down and peered up towards the roof. A wave of blackness seemed to cover the building, as if a massive black sheet had dropped over it and Reagan Avenue.

Her eyes went wide as the spirits struck her. They passed through her, rested on and around her. They held themselves close to her, clinging to her as if in fear.

Dozens of them, spirits of all shapes and sizes. She didn’t usually feel them so easily, but they were not hiding themselves at all. They could feel her connection to them and they wanted her help.

“He’s here.” “Freedom.” “Help us go.” “Free us!” “Save me!” “I want to escape.”

The spirits were restless, dangerously so. Alli knew the reason was on the rooftop. She only hoped Marilyn and Cyrus weren’t in the middle of it.

She opened the car door.

The front door was open and unguarded. It seemed strange in this neighborhood, but Alli learned long ago to never question circumstance. Anything could be true when you dealt with the spirit world.

She took the steps two at a time. She prided her physical fitness, but over a dozen stories would tax just about anyone. She felt the tightness in her side by the time she hit the eighth floor. But it didn’t stop her. The spirits stayed with her, their endless whispers ignored. Her only focus was on Marilyn.

Alli knew she was up there and she was in trouble. She could feel it. All didn’t know how, but she knew Marilyn needed her.

And she refused to let Marilyn down.

Unlike the door at the ground level, the roof door was locked. Alli charged into it, but her petite frame just bounced off the large metal door.

The spirits howled around her. They cried for freedom, for safety and for repentance. But their calls could do nothing against the door.

“Damn it!” She kicked the door again, but it was no use. She couldn’t get through. Her Sticky Gun didn’t have the force behind it to open the door or break the tiny glass viewport to the roof.

She could only stand and watch. Only see Marilyn clutch against Cyrus. Watch the strange two figures walk towards them. And watch them all disappear in a flash of lightning.

“No! No! No!”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 2 Chapter 8. Cyrus

Cyrus stared at his half-sister. Melinoe continued to twittle her hair. He wanted her to make a move, any move. He wanted to react. He wanted to fight her. But she seemed adamant in her desire to just play around.

He jumped as he felt a hand on his shoulder. He glanced to his side, saw Marilyn.

She nodded towards the roof entrance. “Come on. Let’s go.”

“It’s not that easy,” he said. “She won’t let us just leave. She’s here to keep us from going anywhere, to hold us until my parents can take me. Or us, now.”

“Us? What does that mean?”

“I warned you knowledge is dangerous in my world. My parents won’t let you leave when you know of their existence. You will have to come with us.”

“Come with you where?”

“To the underworld, silly mortal.” Melinoe strode towards them as she spoke. “It’s almost twilight. It is time, brother.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you.”

“You act as if you have a choice. You should be happy you’ve been allowed to continue this charade for so long. You must have known mother would not let it stand.”

“I had hoped you all had better things to do. But I should know by now. You never have anything better to do than manipulate people’s lives.”

“I will not go back,” Cyrus said. “And I won’t let you hurt Marilyn.”

“And how do you hope to accomplish that brother? You can’t even stand against me. What makes you think you could stop Mother? Or Lord Hades?”

“Because I’m willing to fight. You can break me, but you can never again rule me.”

Melinoe nodded her agreement. She strode across the rooftop towards him. Cyrus set his feet, prepared to summon a wave of sound. But Melinoe showed no sign of attack. She only smiled and looked between Cyrus and Marilyn.

“I knew you would be more than willing to fight your way to freedom. And I know you are probably right that Hades and our mother would not kill you despite your disrespect. But I am not them.”

“Try me then.”

She glanced towards Marilyn. “And I suspect you will cooperate. It would not be only your life at stake after all. I doubt this dear girl can survive what you can.”

“She has nothing to do with this. If you—”

“It is not my fault, brother. It was you that chose to involve her. She will share your fate, whether you wish it or not.”

“You’re a real piece of work, Melinoe.”

“Thank you, brother.”

Melinoe looked around the rooftop. “It is almost time, brother. Will you choose to fight me or will you spare the mortal’s life?”

“I’m so tired of this bullshit.” Marilyn’s words came with sudden movement. Her hand lashed out at the goddess, hardening into brick as it extended out. This time Melinoe was far less ready for the strike.

The blow caught Melinoe on the side of the head. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head. She went down hard. Melinoe was out.

Just as the sun passed below the horizon.

The sky instantly grew black. Not just dark, but pure interrupted black, as if the sky just suddenly was not there.

Cyrus knew it was only hidden. His father did not appreciate eavesdropping even from his brother. The blackness would block the sky-gods from being too nosy.

“What’s going on?”

Cyrus took Marilyn’s hand. “You are about to meet my parents.”

“And that’s not a good thing.”

“That is a very, very bad thing.”

“Well, damn.”

“An apt choice of words by your concubine, my son.”

Cyrus and Marilyn both turned as Pluto and Persephone slowly coalesced out of the night sky.

His mother could have passed for any mortal, albeit a strangely dressed one. Her hair was a rich brown, the color of fertile soil. But her outfit was unlike anything a human would wear—at least in polite company.

It was a gown, but the lacy ruffles around her legs were covered with tiny sharpened spikes. The bustier hugged her curves. Covered in straps, the leather device appeared impossible to get in and out of without a team of aids. The straps left an ample amount of her chest exposed, enough to make Cyrus feel rather uncomfortable in the presence of his mother.

The tightening of Marilyn’s grip on his hand told him it was Pluto that more frightened her.

Pluto didn’t bother to take an earthly form. His cloak and hood moved like cloth but seemed to form out of the very shadows. They ate what light reached them, as if he was a walking black hole.

Beneath the cloak, he wore only a loose tunic. It was a deep blue, but it seemed almost bright against his gray skin. His body was emaciated, a strange frame that showed bone structure and even veins and arteries.

His face was cold and blank. Only deep set yellow eyes even made him seem alive. He didn’t move as he stood before them.

His father looked worse than the last time Cyrus saw him. He knew of all the gods, Pluto most directly fed on the spiritual energy of his worshipers. With so few left, it seemed the Lord of Hades would grow more and more feeble.

“Mother. Father.”

Cyrus stood beside Marilyn. She clung close to his side. He put an arm around her, held her, even though he knew it was little comfort. He kept his grip on her tight. It would be fatal for her if she reacted to his parents as she did to Melinoe. They could kill her far too easily.

Pluto said nothing. He just remained unmoving. Persephone eyed them both up and down. He knew her judgmental nature as well. He could feel it in her eyes.

After several long moments, she finally met her son’s eyes.

“Hello, Cyrus.”

The air was deathly still. Despite the power it cost Pluto to main the darkness around the, Persephone took her own time.

She glanced to her daughter, still prone on the rooftop. She shook her head.

“I do not like it when you and your siblings fight.”

“I did not choose the fight.”

“No, you ran. You tried to hide. You acted like one of the chattel. Your decision was unbecoming of a god. These people will never respect you this way.”

“I don’t care about their respect. I only care about my freedom.”

Persephone turned to her husband and met his cold yellow eyes. Pluto nodded, his first movement since they arrived on the rooftop.

Cyrus knew it meant nothing good.

“You will accompany us back to Hades,” Persephone said. “There you and the mortal will be judged. I pray the Fates will be kind to you my son.”

“Don’t play solemn with me,” Cyrus said. “You could have just let me go. If I face the Fates, it is at your whim.”

Persephone’s eyes grew angry.

“How dare you? I want to help you, but you fail me at every turn. I—”

Pluto’s hand fell on her shoulder. “It is time.”

Cyrus pulled Marilyn close. He forced her face up to look at him. “I want you to close your eyes. No matter what you hear, don’t open them. What you might see would drive you insane. Do you understand?”

She nodded. She tightly closed her eyes. Cyrus reached out and held her tight. The wind started to rise around them. He knew it was time.

Persephone walked across the rooftop and stood over Melinoe. She bent over and lifted up her other child. Melinoe moaned, but didn’t stir otherwise. Cyrus felt the pull, even as the sky crackled.

He caught the flash of lightning just as they vanished from the Earth.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

ICONS Character Profile: Ian Page

Name: Ian Page

Origin: Transformed

First Appearance: Book One, Chapter One



Prowess 2

Coordination 3

Strength 7

Intellect 6

Awareness 6

Willpower 5


Stamina 12

Determination 1




Mental Resistance




Illusion 7 (Extras: Invisibility)

Energy Drain 6 (Extras: Life Drain; Limits: Burn Out, Metahuman Targets Only)

Precognition 4 (Limits: Intermittent)

Regeneration 6 (Extras: Regrowth)



Identity: Metahuman Serial Killer?

Motivation: discovering the secrets of his past



Enemy: Mysterious Organization

Personal: Intense Distrust of Others


Ian Page is an eighteen year old lost in the world. His memories gone, he escapes from a facility of mysterious origin with only a flash drive. The drive is encrypted except for a single text file with a list of names topped with his own. With no other place to turn, he starts to search for the other names.

Ian is quiet and standoffish, but knows he needs help as much as he doesn’t like to ask for it. Despite his natural urge to avoid others and shrink off to hide, he recruits the other young men and women on the list, as he’s forced to fight his own natural inclinations in order to survive.

Ian has learned his life may not be as it seems. His energy draining abilities are reminiscent of the metahuman killer known as “El Sanguijuelo” (“The Leech”), a man responsible for the death of hundreds over multiple decades. What connection Ian has to this figure remains unknown, but it has imbued him with a new sense of dread.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 2 Chapter 7. Ian

Peach didn’t say anything, but Ian couldn’t help but feel her presence over his shoulder. She was a bit too close, just a little too far into his personal space. Normally it might make him just uncomfortable. She was gorgeous and she seemed to have a thing for him. Now the thought was terrifying, but for very different reasons than when he last saw her.

She can never know about what kind of monster I am. Ever.

He focused on the computer and the report in front of him. The Ian Page files were not alone. The records also included extended information on Rosa and Cyrus, mostly a scattering of surveillance reports over the last several months. Rosa’s files came with a few Spanish newspaper clipping of a hero named Waterspeed, an obvious alter ego. But the final file troubled him the most.

The name was unknown to him. Barrett Nesmith appeared to be in his early twenties from the photographs. He appeared to be of Native American stock and a short man, but stocky and strong. One picture showed him working under the hood of a car. His tanktop revealed the tattoos up both his arms, one covered entirely by a massive rolling flame.

In none of these photos or in the information with them made him seem like a friendly individual. One record was a list of over two dozen juvenile offenses. Nesmith had been in and out of prison for possession, possession with intent to distribute, assault, battery, arson, multiple counts of burglary and grand theft auto.

Yet somehow it seemed he never received more than a slap on the wrist. It didn’t make sense.

“Seems like a real winner,” Peach said from over his shoulder. He could feel his breath on his cheek. She leaned back a bit after saying it. She grabbed the back of his chair. It was a cheap piece of rolling office furniture, but the wheels were well oiled. It took her only a second to pull the chair away from the computer and spit it around.

Before Ian could react, Peach was atop him. She sat down on his lap facing her. She wrapped her arms behind his neck. She smiled at him as she leaned in close and met his wide eyes.

“Hey, I’ve got a few ideas way more interesting than some boring files.”

“I don’t—”

Peach grabbed Ian’s shaggy hair and pulled his head back. Her lips found his neck. She planted kisses there. They felt electric against Ian’s skin.

Ian’s breath slowed. He could feel his body react as her hands slowly traveled down his back. They found the bottom of his shirt. She worked them slowly back up, but this time under his shirt. She pulled it up and Ian raised his hands to let her pull it off of him. She balled it up and threw it away.

“I barely know you,” Ian said.

“What’s my name?”

“Peach,” he said.

“Good. Remember that and you will know what to say as we get to know each other better.”

“Um, what do you—?”

Peach’s hands found the button of his jeans. With one quick snap they came undone. Ian caught his breath.

She kissed him again, this time on the lips. Ian kissed her back, hungry for her now. But she quickly pulled away from him. She gave him a sly grin. She slid back off his lap.

She dropped to the floor, on her knees. She looked up at him with a mischievous grin. Her hands found his open pants. She yanked them—and the briefs beneath them—down off him.

Ian could no longer hide his excitement. There it was on display between them, as they might eyes over it.

She reached out and wrapped her hand around him. She smirked as he shuttered. Peach slowly stroked him.

Awash in pleasure, Ian could only watch her at work. She locked eyes with him as she leaned in towards him. Ian’s eyes went wide as her lips parted. He jerked as her mouth engulfed him.

She moved with an ease and grace that made Ian suspect this was far from the first time she had done this. It didn’t really concern him though. He was too consumed with the pleasure, the bliss, the—

With a groan, Ian let loose in Peach’s mouth. She kept her eyes locked on him as she swallowed repeatedly. To Ian, it felt like she was sucking down his very soul and he never wanted her to stop.

She licked her lips as she sat back.

“S-sorry,” he said.

She shook her head. “It’s all right. I didn’t think you had much experience. You seem too wound up for that. But hopefully you are a little more relaxed now. Am I right?”

Ian nodded. He couldn’t do much else.

“Good, because I am nowhere near done with you yet.”

She grabbed his hands and pulled him to his feet.

“Get your pants on or leave them there. I’ve got plenty to teach you when we get upstairs. Deal?”


Peach yanked him towards the stairs.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 2 Chapter 6. Stomp

The River City Pier was once one of the busiest ports on the Mississippi, shipping necessary freight both to and from the burgeoning west. But its heyday was nearly one hundred years before, in an era where river transport was far more convenient than it was in modern America.

The Pier remained alive now as a tourist attraction. While several historical sites littered the area, the Pier was mostly just an expansive complex of shops and mini-malls. Even in the late fall air, hundreds walked the Pier in search of anything from shirts to fresh vegetables to high priced coffee. Anything you needed in River City could be found here, even a few things less legal than others.

Stomp always loved the Pier. As a kid, he discovered a couple great game shops here and affection for it only grew as he did. As a teenager, he would use the area to meet girls. The beautiful people of River City were often on display both working and playing on the Pier.

As they walked through the crowd and browsed the few street shops still open, Rosa took in the Pier with a casual grace. Stomp new many folks new to it were often overwhelmed by the area, but she showed no sign of worry in the large crowd.

“What do you think?”

“It reminds me of the street markets in Guadalajara, but not as busy.”

Stomp couldn’t help but laugh.

“What? Did I fumble my English?”

Stomp shook his head. “You just always seem to have a way to surprise me. That’s all. But come on. I still have something to show you.”

Stomp couldn’t help but catch Rosa’s glances his ways as they walked. They weren’t particularly subtle. They seemed almost like nervous ticks, but he realized it wasn’t just a tick after the first dozen or so. With her powers a momentary glance could take only a fraction of a millisecond. She was probably trying to move slowly in order to look more natural.

“What is it? Is something on your mind?”

“What do you mean?”

“You keep giving me the glance. I thought you might have something on your mind. Something you want to talk about.”

“You saw that? I mean I—” She stopped short, obviously flustered.

“I noticed,” Stomp said. “You can talk to me though. If I’m anything, it’s a good listener.”

“It-it’s nothing.”

Stomp stopped walking and met her eyes. “You’re lying.”

“No, I—”

He tilted his head, made it clear he knew she was just making excuses.

Her cheeks turned red. “I’m sorry. It’s just so embarrassing.”


“It’s just that I think you’re kind of cute. I’m sorry. That sounds so stupid.”

Stomp laughed. “You don’t have anything to be sorry about. I’m flattered actually. I don’t really set out to attract the opposite sex, but it’s flattering that I still can.”

She pushed a stray strand of hair out of her face. Stomp could see she was feeling self-conscious now, but still had something on her mind.

“Ask it,” he said.

“Ask what?”

“Whatever you’re thinking.”

“It’s just—why don’t you have any interest.”

Stomp shrugged his shoulders. “I was given these powers by a group of alien monsters. They took me apart and rebuilt me. And ever since that time, I’ve been different. I mean, everything is where it is supposed to be, more or less. But I really don’t feel the desire anymore. I know when I see someone attractive, but nothing makes me feel any real desire for them.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Stomp said. “I’ve lived a strange life and I’ve lost far worse things than my sex drive. He paused. He realized he couldn’t just leave it there, but he didn’t want to turn this conversation dark. “But thank you. You’re a beautiful woman and I’m sure someday, you will make someone very happy.”

“Someday,” Rosa said. “We’ll see. I’m already twenty-two. In the neighborhood I came from, that practically makes me an old maid.”

“You’re anything but that.”

“I guess.”

Stomp took her around the final major corner, passing on of his favorite schwarma stands, still open while most of its nearby competitors were already closed for the season. His stomach grumbled at the mix of meat and spices that filled his nostrils. But he knew they would have time enough for that afterwards.

He started down the last block to their destination.

“Here it is,” Stomp said proudly.

Rosa looked at the building at the end of the block. She studied it for several moments. “Is this all of it?”

“Yeah, isn’t it awesome?”

Rosa looked at Whitey’s Dugout and scratched her head. She seemed confused.

I guess it doesn’t look like much from the outside, Stomp thought. But its awesomeness will be apparent inside.

“Come on. Trust me.” He offered her his hand. She took it with no hesitation.

“I trust you.”

He ran with her through the front door. Inside the slightly dilapidated white structure, a small café filled the front area. A half dozen televisions showed baseball games, all highlights from the previous season.

She marveled at it for a moment, but he pulled her past it.

“We can eat later. We have some place else to be.”

He pulled her down the short patch through to the back of the facility. Here was the highlight of the whole place: the batting cages.

Whitey Davi was at the pay station himself. He was thinner than the last time Stomp saw him. His chemo was going well, but his weight clearly waned under the treatment. Still he smiled when he saw Garrett.

“Little brah,” Whitey said. His teeth were bright white against his nearly ebony skin. He still spoke with a hint of a Jamaican accent despite it being nearly forty years since he last lived in his home country. “A long time no see, kiddo.”

Stomp realized he hadn’t yet introduced Rosa. He quickly made them for both his old friend and his new. Whitey took her hand and gave it a friendly shake, followed by a regal bow in front of her.

“Your name is really Whitey?”

Whitey laughed. “You’re clearly not a baseball fan. Yeah, they call me Whitey on account of my name being Whitman. It’s a play on my looks and a bit of a comparison to old Whitey Ford. I took the name as an honor.”

“I see.”

Whitey laughed again. “You ready to take a few swings?”

Rosa looked a bit awkward in a batting helmet. She seemed a little bit too worried as she clutched the bat tightly.

Whitey smiled broadly as he watched her step to the plate. Stomp knew he enjoyed playing around with new batters, just as he did when he pitched for the majors two decades ago. She stared down the ball machine.

“I’m not quite sure what to do,” she said.

Stomp walked up to her. He reached around her quickly and grabbed her arms. He brought them back and up, positioned her in a good batting stance.

“Okay, all you got to do is wait for the ball to come. Stay loose, wait for it and smash it into the net as hard as you can. The readout will tell you how fast your ball flies.”

“That’s all?”

“That’s it.”

Stomp stepped back. Whitey stood by the controls. Stomp gave him a nod and Whitey turned on the machine.

“You can let the first one go by to get the feel—”

The ball flew out. Rosa swung at the ball with ease. The bat crashed in to it. It all moved so fast Stomp thought the bat had teleported.

The ball flew into the net and blasted right through it. It smashed against the far wall, leaving a dent.

Rosa’s cheeks grew red. “Sorry.”

Sorry?” Whitey said. “You’re a natural, kid!”

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 2 Chapter 5. Marilyn

Marilyn stood naked on the rooftop as Cyrus and the strange girl just stared at one another. It felt like a showdown, a standoff between two Old West gunslingers, each ready to shoot the other dead in the street.

The new arrival even dressed like Cyrus. This Melinoe wore black pants, a gray blouse and a fitted long coat. But unlike Cyrus’s dark attire, her clothes seemed perfectly tailored. They clung to Melinoe’s body just the way the needed, accentuating her slick curves.

Her face was equally perfect, almost otherworldly. Under her slick cut of dark black hair, she had the face of a supermodel. She could walk any runway in the world and no one would bat an eyelash. Instead she was here, standing on a rooftop. It made no sense.

“Are you going to tell your whore to dress, brother?”

“She’s not a—”

Marilyn prided herself on being as civil as any person could. But she wouldn’t be denigrated, especially by some witch from out of nowhere. She would not be treated like someone’s toy, a simple plaything. Not now, not ever.

She lashed out at Melinoe. Her hand shaped in to a mallet as she charged. But the hammer never landed. Marilyn couldn’t even reach Melinoe.

The creatures came out of the rooftop. Their bodies flowed, malleable just like hers, but far more amorphous. Not human at all. The creatures of protoplasm rose up to block her, to hold her. To consume her.

They engulfed her body. Marilyn screamed and tried to fight off their attack. But they were all around her. She couldn’t even be sure how many. They trapped her in a circle, enclosed her. Even as she lashed out, they molded against her attacks.

But they didn’t really hold her. She realized their skin slowly melded with her own. She could struggle all she wanted, but it wouldn’t matter. Slowly but surely these monsters would subsume her. They would engulf her very being, destroy everything that made her human—or at least a facsimile of one.

“Cyrus, help me!”

“Melinoe, enough! You’ve terrified her, now let her go!”

“Oh, you’re no fun, little brother. Always so worried about these lowlies.”

The creatures vanished even more suddenly than they appeared. Marilyn stood on her own, still naked on the rooftop. The raven-haired girl seemed to pay her no heed at all. She focused on Cyrus completely, as if Marilyn was little more than a pet.

“What the heck is going on here, Cyrus?”

Cyrus didn’t look away from the woman that claimed to be his sister. “This is what I was trying to avoid, Marilyn. This is my half-sister Melinoe.”

“Half-sister?” Marilyn said.

“Our mother had an affair with my uncle. It did not go over well with Dad, but they don’t really divorce where I come from.”

Melinoe laughed. “Oh so coy, brother. I will never understand why you treat these mortals as equals. They are barely gnats next to you.”

Mortals? Marilyn couldn’t begin to grasp this woman’s delusions. But she seemed to have a strange view of reality.

“Perhaps we should consult your sister’s doctor,” Marilyn said. “She seems confused.”

“She’s not confused,” Cyrus said. “She’s an immortal, a so-called goddess.”

He paused. Sighed.  “Just like me.”

“A goddess,” Marilyn said. “I’m an amorphous being in the form of a long dead movie star and even I don’t believe that.”

Melinoe laughed again.

“See, brother? Their lowly minds don’t even comprehend what is before them. They are little more than beasts, here for our amusement.”

“You sound like your father,” Cyrus said. “If they are such lowly animals, are you going to take after him and start fucking bulls?”

Melinoe only laughed again. Marilyn could only watch the pair’s interactions unsure of any other action. But she knew she couldn’t continue to stand here naked.

With a thought, her dress reappeared like the second layer of skin it basically was. She still didn’t know what this woman had done to her mind to make her see those monsters, but she knew she would make Melinoe pay.

The wind ripped into Marilyn’s skin as they stood on the rooftop. Winter was coming. Though River City was known for its mild seasons, this year had already been unseasonably cold.

Neither Cyrus nor Melinoe seemed to feel it at all. The siblings just stared at one another. Neither even spoke. But from their stance, they way they watched each other, their near lack of movement, Marilyn knew they could go to war at a second’s notice.

He’s telling the truth. Or at least the truth as they see it. I’m standing with a god and goddess in front me.

Cyrus is a god.

A smile crossed her face. He certainly fucked like one.

Melinoe slowly raised both hands, an apparent sign of peace. “Come now, brother. Don’t be so tense. I’m not here to fight you. I am only here to keep an eye on you.”

“You never go anywhere just to do any one thing, Melinoe. You always have plans of your own.”

Melinoe smirked at this, but said nothing. The half-siblings stared at one another.

“What is this, Cyrus?” Marilyn’s question broke the uncomfortable silence. “What’s going on here?”

“This is what I was trying to avoid.”

“Avoid? Cyrus, what’s really going on?”

My family are bad people, Marilyn. Melinoe is a saint compared to my mother and father. After awhile, not even familial ties can make you ignore the horrors perpetrated by your parents. So I ran away. I’ve been running ever since.”

“I don’t understand,” Marilyn said. She glanced towards Melinoe. The dark haired woman just stood there, wrapping her long hair around her fingers.

Cyrus looked toward his half-sister as well. “I’ve already said too much. You already know far more than you should. In my world, knowledge is the most dangerous thing there is.”

“Your world? Cyrus, I can take care of myself. Just tell me what’s going on.”


Cyrus met Marilyn’s eyes. She narrowed them and met his look head on. Her intensity, her lack of fear, she projected it all towards him.

“I’m serious about being a god,” Cyrus said. “Or at least a relative of mythological beings. But I’m just another person, one that happens to live a damn long time.”

He shook his head. “But my family doesn’t feel the same way. They embrace their power and their ancient place. Though barely anyone treats them as anything more than fiction, they treat people like little more than property.

“Who?” Marilyn said. “Who are these parents of yours?”

“They go by many names, but you would know them as Pluto and Persephone, gods of the underworld.”

Friday, March 6, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 2 Chapter 4. Alli

Alli kept an eye on Ian during the short ride back to Spirit Cop Headquarters. He seemed despondent and sullen. She understood why: it wasn’t everyday you learned you might be a killer.

But Alli also knew she would need him focused if they were going to unravel the secrets of his past and the organization that wanted him. That meant she would have to try to find a way to get him refocused. Comforting wasn’t her strong suit. Growing up with ghosts didn’t do much to help her understand human emotion.

“We will figure this out,” she said. “It’s going to be all right.”

He didn’t say anything at all for the rest of the trip back. Alli was worried about him. He didn’t seem to take this as if someone found him out. He took it like a death sentence. She worried he would do something drastic, something life threatening to himself or others.

This is why she hated people. Ghosts never acted suicidal. They always had a reason, something easy to decipher. Humans had too much range, too many complications.

They made her head hurt. As she parked the Spirit-Mobile, she almost sighed in relief. Maybe Peach had some information or some way to at least get Ian out of his shell.

Ian followed her inside through the front door and in to the large open area that made up the main reception and client area. Peach sat at her computer in front of the room. She looked up as they entered and offered them both a smile.

Ian turned away from her as soon as she did. He made to walk out the door, but Alli stopped him. “Where are you going?”

“I need to leave. I need to be away from this. From everything.”

“I can’t let you do that, Ian.”

Ian stared at her. Alli stared back. She kept her arms crossed, her eyes locked on him. She fought the urge to send her hand down for her Sticky Gun. She didn’t want to scare him, even though he frightened her already.

He’s a killer, she thought. Don’t forget that.

“You can’t stop me,” Ian said. “I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just—” He shook his head. “I think it’s better if I just disappear. I don’t want to hurt anyone else.”

“I won’t let you hurt anyone else. But you have to let us help. We have to figure this out. You can’t do that alone. And we can’t do that if you run away. That helps no one, including you.”

“I’m a killer. I—”

“Don’t you think I realize that? I know the truth when I hear it. And Rosa’s words…those are the truth. You scare the shit out of me, Ian. And if you ever hurt Marilyn, ever thought about hurting Marilyn, I wouldn’t hesitate to end you where you stood. I honestly don’t know if I should trust you at all. But I know Marilyn does. I know she’s worried about you.”

She stepped towards him, rested her hand on his shoulder. “Maybe it’s not much. Maybe Marilyn is too trusting. But I know she cares what happens to you. And I care about her, what she wants, what she thinks, maybe more than anything else in this world. So you’re stuck with me and you’re stuck with her.”

“I—you’re right. I’m being selfish. I just feel the urge to run, to escape at every turn. Like it’s my natural instinct. It’s not time for that now. It’s time for answers, but I’m still scared. So, so scared.”

“It’s alright to be scared.”

“You don’t understand. It’s not fear of my future or whatever. It’s fear of myself. It’s me. I’m terrified of myself.”

“Ian, I—” Alli fell silent.

How can I comfort him when he scares me too?

“When I touched Doppelganger, when I killed him, it scared me. But more than that it invigorated me. I felt power like I never felt before. It was intoxicating. It was wondrous. It felt like the best drug in the world.”

“What are you saying, Ian?”

“I’m not scared of the power. I’m scared that I won’t be able to stop myself from using it again and again and again.”

Alli didn’t know what to say. She only knew she was more terrified of him before. He sounded like a serial killer. She took a deep breath, collected her thoughts and forced the words out.

“We—you can’t tell the others this, Ian. Everyone’s already on edge. I can’t be sure they wouldn’t try to stop you. To kill you.”

“Maybe that would be best,” Ian said. “Maybe if I’m dead, no one else will have to die.”

“Never. Think about it. You used this power against Doppelganger by instinct alone. What do you think you would do against four metahumans on the attack? How do you know you wouldn’t hurt them.”

“Oh god,” Ian said. “Oh god.”

“Is this a conversation for anyone or are you two turning into old hens, clucking all day long?” Peach walked towards them both, her grin breaking the solemn expressions of Alli and Ian. It seemed clear she hadn’t heard any of their conversation as she continued. “I got your text, boss lady, but it didn’t say whether you found that Rosa girl and—is everything all right?”

She looked back and forth between them, her eyes meeting their own grim visages. Alli focused her attention on her secretary. She forced the most sincere smile she could fake on to her face.

“Everything is fine. We’ve just had a hard time with the fight. I think all our nerves are a bit on edge. The other went to get some rest.”

“Even Marilyn?”

“Even Marilyn.”

Peach pointed back to her desk on the far end of the room. “I’ve got something and you won’t believe it.”

Alli followed Peach in to the rear office, past the secretary’s desk. She paused and turned for just a moment to make sure Ian was right behind her. He followed around, silent and even more sullen than before.

“The name you texted me, El Sanguijuelo, is a weird masculine version of a Spanish word. It means—”

“Leech,” Alli and Ian said simultaneously.

“Yeah, that’s right. But more interestingly it was the encryption key I needed. Whoever those blokes in armor were, they know about this El Sanguijuelo.”

“You’ve opened the files,” Ian said. “What do they say? Is there anything about me? Who am I? Where I’m from?”

“I-I’m not sure. It unlocked a series of bios of several men from the last hundred years. One was named Ian Page but this guy died in the war.”

“Iraq,” Alli said.

“World War II.”

“World War II? That can’t be right. Or it can’t be our Ian.”

Peach shrugged and pushed her glasses back from the tip of her nose. “I don’t know. I’m just the computer nerd. I’m not trying to decipher what anything means, only to find out what is in the files. What files I have at least.”

She was annoyed with Alli. Alli knew she was pushing Peach too hard on this. Before Peach was her secretary, she was Alli’s friend. Peach put a lot of work in to Spirit Cop. Dozens of hours past what she was paid. Alli knew she sometimes took for granted too much of what Peach did for her.

“I’m grateful for everything you’re doing, P. I just feel like we’re all missing something here.”

Ian pointed out of the office, towards the other computer. “Mind if I take a crack at it?”

“Sure,” Alli said. She wasn’t really sure how else to respond. She hadn’t known Ian even knew how to use a computer, let alone had skills with it.

He walked out of the office and to the other computer. It was already booted and ready. It took him only seconds to log in to the company network and access the files. Alli peered over his shoulder as he went to work.

He opened the folder of his namesake. Inside he started to peruse a series of PDF files, all clippings and old government files. Alli read them over Ian’s shoulder.

The first was simply a short newspaper snippet about the Valhalla World’s Fair. Only a mention of Ian Page, as the manager of a girl’s revue.

The next clipping was of similar ilk, a mention of Ian Page as a manager of a big band visiting Chicago.

The third file was a badly faded copy of an arrest report dated 1947. Ian Page was arrested for solicitation alongside four young women.

The final file was an FBI report on Ian. Much of it was blacked out. But between the classified information, it was very clear who this Ian Page was. He worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or at least served them as an asset. He worked for the government.

“I don’t understand this,” Alli said. “What’s going on?”

“It’s a key,” Ian said.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s just like El Sanguijuelo was for the first layer. It’s another key, but I have no idea to what or how to use it. I’m good but this might take a cryptographer to decode without a password or an explanation of the key.”

Peach walked in to the room. “I have a few ideas. Maybe Ian and I can work together on this.”

Ian looked up from the computer at the secretary. “I—I’m not sure that would be a good idea.”

He can’t use his powers against her, Alli thought. And I should check in with Marilyn. I don’t trust that Cyrus guy anymore than I do Ian.

“I’m not sure if I would be good company right now,” Ian said. “I don’t think my head is in the right place.”

“Don’t be silly,” Peach said. “I could use the company. I’ve been staring at that screen by myself for hours. Any company would be great right now. A cute unattached guy is just icing on the cake.”

“Peach…” Alli gave her aide a look that both knew well. Peach had too much of a history of bedding their clients.

“Hey, we’re not working for him. Right, Ian?”

The scrawny blond boy’s face was beet red as they both looked towards him.

“I guess it is okay for us to work together,” he said.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 2 Chapter 3. Rosa

It felt strange walking through the streets of River City. It felt too normal. Rosa couldn’t quite understand why that bothered her. She came to this city to find normality, but now that she was simulating it, it felt strange.

Perhaps it was the adrenaline still charging from her escape. It felt strange to her that little more than an hour earlier she was trapped. Now she was free and alive, even if this new circle of “friends” left her wary. The man with her though certainly seemed different than the others.

Garrett Vos walked with her towards her apartment. He was quiet for most of the walk, but friendly and outgoing enough. He explained his powers, his nickname and went on about how much he loved River City. Rosa wasn’t sure what to make of him, but his big, fuzzy hair was adorable and she could see how that smile could melt any woman’s heart.

Once they reached her apartment, it took just a few minutes to get a new key from her super. Garrett waited in the hull as she took a very quick shower.

She cleaned up in a matter of seconds. She quickly donned a pair of blue jeans, a modest blouse and a new set of the special running shoes she wore. She ran her brush through her hair a few hundred times, then tied it in a simple ponytail.

She stopped to look at herself in the mirror. She looked good, but not too good. She found this Garrett attractive, but she barely knew him. She did not want to give him the wrong impression about her. She wanted to wow him, not make him think she was some cheap trollop.

She nodded her approval to her reflection before she ran to the door.

“Ready,” she said as she hit the hallway.

“What? It’s been like two minutes. How did you—?” He stopped himself. “Super speed, right.”

She smiled at him. She quickly—but not super-quickly—locked her door.

“Where are we going?”

The last answer Rosa expected from her question was a bus stop. But that is exactly where Garrett took her. He wouldn’t tell her anything about their destination. As they waited for the transportation to arrive, she could only stand still and tap her foot impatiently.

“Are you trying to wear a hole in the cement?”

Garrett’s words made her realize her foot was beating against the ground at superhuman speeds. She forced herself to stop.

“Sorry. Patience isn’t my greatest virtue.”

“I can’t say that is too surprising, all things considered.” Garrett said it with a smile, instantly taking any cut out of his wit. “But the bus is the easiest way back to my neighborhood, unless you suddenly want to lift me up and carry me.”

She looked him up and down. They didn’t call this man Stomp for nothing. His thighs and calves were massive hunks of meat. She suspected each of his legs weighed as much as she did. She wouldn’t get more than a few blocks with him in tow.

“The bus then. Why would not take the trains?”

“I’m not a big fan of going underground,” Garrett said. “I would prefer to avoid it by any means necessary.”

His eyes drifted away from her, down the street. But he seemed trapped in an unwanted memory. Rosa stopped herself from asking anymore questions. This was clearly a sore subject for Garrett and this was supposed to be an upbeat afternoon.

If she could put El Sanguijuelo out of her mind, it wasn’t her place to force him to talk about something uncomfortable for him, even if she was curious about him. But not wanting to ask the question just caused a long silence. And that was no more comforting for either of them.

“My old neighborhood was a slum,” Rosa said. “Crime was everywhere. Children disappeared without even a report to la policia. The police might have been in on some of the disappearances after all. My parents tried to make a difference there, but those streets…it was not easy. Guadalajara was not a nice place.”

“I’m sorry,” Garrett said.

“It is all right. We moved away from there when I was eight. We moved in to the center of the city, into a shining tower the likes of which I had never imagined. I went from next to nothing to every amenity I could imagine. I wouldn’t see those streets again until they gave me my first costume.”

“After that, I went with my parents many times to the old neighborhood. But it was different. Dressed up like a flashy hero, no one looked at me like I was one of them anymore. Instead I was just another outsider not to be trusted.”

Rosa couldn’t help but drift back to the memories of that time. She could still see the fear in the eyes of children she once played alongside.

Garrett’s hand found her shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “It was a long time ago. And if it wasn’t for that, I might still be there, still wasting my life pretending to be something I’m not. I’m not a metahero. I just want to be a person.”

“Powers never make life easier,” Garrett said. “If I’ve learned anything in all this, it is that. Life doesn’t always make life easier though. I wish it all came with a manual, you know?”

Rosa smiled. Garrett smiled back at her. Rosa found herself relaxed with this man—more at ease than she felt with anyone in months. She wished she could figure out why. He was cute, but she knew better than to just let any cute boy sweep her off her feet. She wondered if he had some hidden power.

I must be careful.

“Hey, there’s the bus,” he said. She turned to see the large white rectangle slowly pulling in to the stop.

Rosa found that she loved the River City Metro Transport. After so many years separated from normal everyday people, she suddenly found herself surrounded by them. An old woman in front of the bus chattered incessantly at the bus driver, an African American man that only half listened to her nonstop droning. An old beard man, dressed in worn military fatigues, spoke to no one in particular. A twenty-something girl, tattoos covering her necks and arms and her hair worn in gelled spiked on her head, spoke loudly into a cellular phone. A large woman, at least three hundred pounds, argued with a small child no more than seven or eight, perhaps a grandchild.

“You’re staring,” Garrett said.

“It’s all so interesting. I’m not used to being around people. I mean normal people. After I left the old neighborhood, everyone in the place I moved to wore a costume. My parents, my ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’, the random people we regularly fought. Outside a few police contacts, I barely ever got to even talk to someone without powers. It still feels strange to walk around the streets without a costume, let alone be accepted as just a normal person on the street.”

Stomp shook his head. “All my life, I just wanted to be noticed. My entire community service bit makes me proud, but even I admit I love the glory I get from it. The adulation and the fame. And here you are running from what I’ve always wanted.”


“I don’t want it to sound like I’m judging you,” he said. Rosa felt her body suddenly relax at those words. “You made it clear you’ve had moments in your past that framed your decision. I’m not going to pry in to them. But I just found it amusing, the die—what’s the word?”


“And you speak English better than me too.” He laughed. “But yeah, dichotomy. It’s strange we end up together on this bus when we seem to be heading in exactly opposite directions.”

“That can be blamed on Doppelganger and his allies.”

“Well, yeah. But that’s not what I’m getting at. I’m getting to the whole opposite direction, but both end up here and not thing. Fate, you know?”

She shook her head. “I do not believe in fate. But I do believe God works in mysterious ways.”

The bus pulled to another stop. A large black man, nearly as wide as the aisle, climbed aboard. Loud music boomed from the phone he held.

“Is it always this loud on public transit?”

“Pretty much,” Garrett said.

“How much longer?”

“Awhile. You should probably sit back and try to enjoy the music.”

“I think you and I may have different definitions of ‘enjoy’ and ‘music’. Where are we going?”

Garrett smirked. “You’ll see.”