Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 22-3

“I’m not going to tell you anything,” Ian said. “I want to talk to your boss. I don’t know exactly what he wants with me or you want me or whatever. I’m sick of everyone and their second cousin chasing after me like I’m a golden fucking snitch.”

This made her laugh. “Always so brash when confronted. I supposed you could try and lunge over here. Suck me dry with that power of yours. You are the leech after all. But you will not. Do you understand?”

Ian nodded. He couldn’t stop himself. Something was very wrong here.

“Now you are going to answer all my questions, aren’t you?”

He nodded.

“Speak every response. I want to hear your words.”


“Now you know better than that, Ian. I suspect somewhere in that addled little mind of yours, you remember what to call me.”

His head ached, but something about her words—something about the power they carried—made him remember. “Yes, mistress.”

“That’s better.”

She smiled and he could only focus on her face. Her words compelled him somehow. No matter how much he didn’t want to do anything she said, as soon as she spoke, her command was everything.

“I see your resistance,” she said. “You know this will only cause you pain. You will suffer needlessly. You understand you cannot resist me, Ian.”

“Yes, mistress.”

“Better. Much better. Now tell me what you remember.”

Ian told her of his awakening in the hands of Doppelganger and his men, his escape and his subsequent meetings with Stomp, Cyrus and the rest. His limited description of Doppelganger seemed to intrigue her, but not nearly as much as his description of Peach and her abilities. As he started to explain his transfer to the alien world, she cut him off.

“Tell me more about this Peach. What is her full name? Where does she come from?”

“She’s beautiful,” Ian said. “She looks young, but she’s far older than she looks. I didn’t ask where she came from, but she hinted more than once that she was older than she appeared. She was the first person I didn’t feel like a pariah around. She made me feel like a person, while it still felt like the others treated me as a complication in their life.”

“Did she tell you where she came from? Did she ever mention other witches? Or the whereabouts of the coven?”

“I don’t know anything about other witches,” Ian said. “Nothing I can remember.”

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 22-2

The back of the sedan was a bit more spacious than it appeared from the outside. Two rows of seats were inside. With the woman taking up the seats against the wall separating the back from the driver, Ian took a seat directly across from her.

The woman across from him did seem familiar, though older than he remembered. He guessed she was in her early forties. Her blonde hair was pulled into a tight bun. Her blue eyes were framed by designer glasses. She wore a simple skirt and business suit, both in heather gray. Her three inch pumps were the only thing that marked her as anything but a business woman.

She didn’t show any sign of emotion at his presence. He knew her, but she showed no sign of recognition, nor really of interest in his presence. Whoever she worked with—or for—went to great effort to get him here, but she showed no sign of caring about his existence at all. She tapped the dark screen between herself and her driver. Ian felt the sedan move a second later.

 She met his eyes. She seemed to study him now. He couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t out of curiosity about his thoughts or feelings. No, it felt like she looked at him like prey.

“Your memory really is gone,” she said. “I can see it in your eyes. What do you remember about me?

A wisecrack rose in his mind, But those words didn’t escape his lips. Instead he found himself compelled to answer her. “I remember your face. But you were younger. You were possessive. I remember your body. I remember being on my knees before you. I was completely infatuated you. I did anything you asked of me. It’s like I worshipped you, but I don’t know why.”

She smirked. “That’s probably a good thing. I don’t think you would have got in this car with me if you had after all. My skills are a unique specialization, sl—” She stopped short, as if she remembered to not use whatever word she meant. “What is it you call yourself now?”

“Ian. My name is Ian.”

“Of course it is. You were always fascinating to me, Ian.” His name slithered off her lips like a serpent. She clearly knew him as someone else. “But we have a long ride ahead of us and you have a lot of answers to give me.”

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 22. Ian

Every few minutes, Ian’s cellphone rang. It gave him another path to travel, or another means of transportation to take. After a trip on the city bus, a walk down seventeen blocks next to heavy traffic and a rented bicycle ride down the trails of Reinhold Park, he found himself in a large parking area just on the edge of the park. In daytime, he was sure it was a lovely place. But in the dark of the night, it felt dangerous, as if dark things lurked in the shadows around him.

It was clear the journey had one purpose: to throw off anyone that might have followed Ian. He knew the concept well. His past may still be a mystery, but he knew it wasn’t the first time he took action to lose any potential tail. His earliest memories were of being pursued by Doppelganger’s enforcers. But he knew deep down he spent much more time than that on the run.

When the black sedan pulled in and stopped in front of him, he knew this was a moment of truth for him.

I’m alone. I have no help. I’m not sure I can do this. He could feel his hands shaking. I know I should be worried about the voice on the phone, but I have no idea why. Yet I can feel the foreboding that came with it. I have a history with this person and it seems obvious it isn’t a good one. And even though I want to help Phoebe, all I can feel is dread at the thought of it. Why I am such a coward?

The back passenger side door swung open in front of him. A silky feminine voice simply said, “Get in.”

He stared at the open door. His life could be forfeit if he entered. But he knew this was his only chance to save Phoebe. Besides, if they wanted him dead, they would have killed him a long time ago. This was clearly someone’s plan. If he backed out now, she would be lost. Her life would be lost instead of his. And none of the genetic engineering she experienced in space would save her from a torturous demise.

“Get in,” the voice said again. It was familiar, but like the man on the phone, Ian couldn’t place it. “I won’t repeat myself again.”

With a sigh, he stepped forward and climbed into the sedan.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

River City History: Rise of the Monsters

As summer brought a heatwave to 1954 River City, the gangs under the Red Hawk were still at war. A traveling carnival mystic named Madame Lizette saw a place to make her move. Lizette (no full name nor birth records exist for her) appeared to possess actual magical powers.

Her machinations were slow and deliberate until the arrival of a pair of criminals: Bonita “Nita” Dell and Brett Hannigan. The criminals tried to rob the carnival box office, only to be cornered by the police. They hid in two hollow animal totems owned by Lizette, totems that were destroyed when the police located the pair of would-be thieves and opened fire.

Dell and Hannigan both survived, but Lizette burned with anger at the loss of powerful sources of magic. She used the remains of the totems to cast one last piece of magic on Dell and Hannigan. Inside the prison hospital, the criminals were transformers. Hannigan became a werewolf while Nita kept her human features but gained the fur and tail—as well as the strength and power—of a tiger.

The two monsters go on a rampage that destroys much of city hall, but Lizette’s own greed gets the better of her when she learns of a large reward for the pair: $25,000. When she tries to trap them, she used her dark arts to turn them on one another. When Dell and Hannigan apparently kill each other, the police target Lizette. She runs into her own burning pyre than be killed by the police.

Dell and Hannigan’s bodies were taken into police custody, apparently human again.

Nita Dell and Brett Hannigan were not dead however, nor were they fully human. The pair escaped from the city morgue after they realized they could now transform from human to animal forms at will. Nita seemed to find some kind of enlightenment in her near death experience. She realized that with their powers, they could rise to take the Red Hawk’s place. The pair set out to secure the criminal trade of the city, using their powers to strongarm the gangs of River City.

With a shortage of metahumans in the city, legends of the Werewolf and the Tigerwoman struck fear into the citizenry and the criminals of the city. While the two figures consolidated power through several compatriots, they secured their hold over the city using their animal forms.

Even as they strengthened their hold in the underworld, each use of their powers deepened their transformations. While once Tigerwoman only had a few superficial cat-like features, her body grew more hair with each turn and her claws and legs lengthened and hardened. Within months, Hannigan started to sprout a longer wolf-like nose and sharper, deadly teeth. But with their powers necessary for them to secure their powers, the two figures continued to use them as they continued to bring the individual cartels and mobs under their purview.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 21-3

“You weren’t supposed to survive,” Audrey said. “You were supposed to be wiped away by the power of the ritual. But somehow you held on. Somehow you took what was supposed to be ours.”

“My body? It’s mine. It always will be mine.”

“You are a foolish woman,” Solomon said. “The Survivors’ Club wasn’t about sex. It was about the end. The literal end of this world. We were to create two beings, humans perfect in anyway. Able to shape their bodies, realign their very DNA. They would be able to repopulate any world. They would be able to survive any journey or any environment. But it took a massive amount of energy and a massive sacrifice of flesh. The inner circle knew our fates. Audrey, Jolene and I knew we would be composited into something new, but we knew our combined mind would be more powerful than the pieces. But your little brain had to get in the way. It’s time for you to end, Meredith. You’ve been in the way for far too long.”

Solomon and the women started towards her. But they didn’t walk exactly. They floated over the scene around Marilyn. She watched them come. She knew what they wanted. But she didn’t know how to fight it.

“You can’t have me,” she said. “My mind is my own.”

They laughed. “Your body hasn’t been your own for fifty years,” Audrey said.

“You can’t even retain your own memories,” Jolene said.

“You are a shadow too stupid to move on,” Solomon added. “This is a mistake we plan to remedy.”

Marilyn looked at all of them one in turn. Solomon’s face was impassive, as it always was. Audrey gave her a familiar smile, a knowing grin about what she did, but this one more sinister than in her memories. Jolene held a sneer, her disdain for Marilyn—or Meredith—obvious.

“You will try to take my mind, but I have held on to this body for fifty years. You won’t take it away from me now. I will fight. And I will win.”

“We will see,” they all said as one.   

A moment later they all swept towards her as one. Their spectres rushed into her body, one by one. Her very cells seemed to roar in agony at the touch. Marilyn felt her form, whether in her or own mind or in reality, suddenly shift. She lost control of the careful control she had over her form. Her skin shifted and melted around her. She felt their minds inside her own, ripping at her memories and her thoughts and her very being.

She tried to scream, but her mouth was already gone.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 21-2

Another woman chuckled. Marilyn’s head turned to her right. The raven haired woman in front of her reminded her vaguely of Melinoe. Her demeanor was just as dark. “She was always a fool, Audrey. We lured her in with the games and she never suspected the true purpose of the Club.”

Solomon cleared his throat. “Audrey, Jolene, no need for such cattiness. Our friend here was far from the only one that didn’t know our true goals. She just has the misfortune of sticking around even after the ritual was complete. Her soul was supposed to be subsumed. Instead she somehow maintained control of her vessel. That is what must change. After all, her memories are muddled. She can’t even remember her own name.”

“No, I’m Marilyn. I may not be the original, but that’s still who I am.”

The man and the two women laughed at her.

“What is this? What do you want with me?”

“Come now,” Solomon said. “You must at least remember your own death.”

“My—” Flashes of the room around her filled her head. She remembered the bodies and as she did, they appeared all around her. Dozens of corpses, throats slit, some eviscerated from stem to stern. It was a charnel house. Marilyn couldn’t fight back the tears.

“I do believe she’s starting to remember, Jolene.”

“I think you’re right, Audrey. And the weak little fool is already breaking down. This will be easier than we thought.”

Marilyn’s eyes flashed around the room. She saw the bloodstained altar. She remembered it all too well. She remembered Solomon slitting his own throat. And she remembered someone else. Another figure in the shadows, but he wasn’t here. Because this place wasn’t real. With that revelation, memories flooded into her mind.

“My name was Meredith. I knew all of you. I saw you all dead. It was all part of some insane ritual. It was a trap because you wanted me to serve as a ‘vessel’. I think I understand now. This isn’t any part of the real world. I’m inside my mind. And you’re in here with me.”

Audrey and Solomon stayed impassive, but Jolene showed her surprise.

“You thought I was some weak fool,” Marilyn said. “You thought I was an easy target, the perfect mind for you to take for whatever sick scheme you have here. You thought you could erase my mind, steal my body and use it. I just don’t know for what.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 21. Marilyn

Her eyes slowly blinked open. She didn’t know how long she was out. It wasn’t a natural feeling to her. With total control over her entire frame, Marilyn could normally program every cell of her body when to sleep and when to wake. She didn’t even need sleep as she could renew her own cells with just a bit of meditation. Yet somehow she had passed from consciousness and she didn’t even know how.

Her surroundings confused her. She recognized the old brick walls around her. They were indelibly etched into her memory, some of the first sights she ever saw in her existence. But they were better lit now. Lights above her illuminated the room in ways it never was when Alli first found her years ago.

Marilyn was back to where she first awoke, but it wasn’t the same sepulchre. The walls seemed newer, as if the building was just constructed.

“Finally, she awakes.”

Marilyn whipped around. Her body felt strange, a bit lighter. Her head ached, but as she rested her eyes on the well-built bald man in front of her, his appearance was achingly familiar. He wore a simple black sweater and pants, both form fitting to his aged but still fit frame.

He smirked at her, obviously bemused by her confusion. “It’s been a long time, darling. I thought you would never remember I was here.”


“Come now. You have all the answers you seek. Just because you’ve hid them from yourself for so long doesn’t mean they were never there. Now think. Unlock that brain you seem so unwilling to use and tell me who I am.”

“Solomon,” Marilyn said. “Your name is Solomon. I don’t know how I know that. But I know there’s something wrong here. This isn’t right. None of it is.”

Solomon chuckled. “You’ve hid the truth from too long. ‘There’s something wrong here.’ Audrey, she’s more of a fool than I suspected.”

“Now now, Solomon. She’s had a rough day.”

The new voice came from behind her. Marilyn whipped around and stared into the cold eyes of a brunette in her mid-thirties. Her presence made no sense. She hadn’t been here before, but now she suddenly stood where Marilyn first awoke.


“See Solomon. She already remembers my name. Even if she still pretends at this nonsense about being Marilyn Monroe, she at least has a little memory.”

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Casting Call: Rosa

Rosa isn't the easiest character to cast. I need to have someone that can portray the repressed energy of the character. But I also need someone that can show the fears and insecurities she feels every time she uses her abilities in a dangerous situation.

Image credit: BerkantCalisken under Creative Commons license.

Though her acting chops sometimes get downplayed by her history as a Disney Channel star, Selena Gomez is pretty much the perfect fit for the character. She would have to downplay a bit of her current style as an international pop star, but I think she could pull off the dichotomy of Rosa's life to near perfection.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 20-6

Alli fell silent as she brought the Spirit Mobile around another corner, she saw the beginnings of Watt Hill. The aging infrastructure marked the community’s history, but the large project housing towering over the classic buildings most symbolized the neighborhood. Run down in the fifty years since they were built, they were festering pits where innocence died in the face of brutal gang warfare.

While other neighborhoods in the city were gentrified into something livable, Watt Hill seemed to be confined more and more, a cut off area of the city where the criminal element could dwell away from the ‘upstanding’ parts of the city. Alli knew that to be a joke, but it was the kind of fairy tale that allowed River City’s residents to sleep a bit easier at night.

King Drive was fairly well maintained up until it hit the edge of the Hill. From there, it started to degrade into a series of bigger and bigger potholes. The city would quickly black top over them every few years, but even the transit board had given up on the area for the most part. As soon as she turned off King Drive and onto Willow Avenue, the streets were so damaged she might as well be driving on gravel. She slowed down to spare the Spirit Mobile’s suspension, but the ominous figures on the edges of the street made her worried.

It also made her feel bad. Watt Hill was mostly a black neighborhood, with populations of Arabian and Eastern European immigrants mixed in. She knew she shouldn’t assume violent behavior from everyone here. She knew most of the Hill’s residents were basically good people, but she also watched the news. Bad things happened daily in the Hill with random murders and drug related violence being a regular occurrence.

She kept an eye on house numbers s she moved down Willow Avenue. Ziya’s address was a few blocks off the regular route, but she saw it was just ahead on her right. She found a parking spot just a few houses down and pulled the Spirit Mobile in. With a deep breath, she turned off the car’s engine and opened her door. Kaihime followed her.

They reached the end of the walkway to the rundown two story bungalow just as some kind of light flashed inside. Alli noticed the door was askew, hanging open and broken on the top hinge. She started to say something, but never got a chance.

Blinding light ripped from the windows of the house and turned the world white around them. It washed over them both even as they heard the sound of the house exploding before them. Alli didn’t even have time to scream before a wooden plank struck her and sent her sprawling to the ground.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 20-5

Alli shook her head. “So what are you saying? Someone out there has distributed this information? Why?”

Kaihime shrugged. “I do not have that answer. Whoever or whatever did it, they’ve never left any clues to their origins or their ability to manipulate the internet at the level they showed when they erased the file from every source. Such a thing shouldn’t have been possible, yet it happened, making the Shadow Codex barely a myth on the modern web. But I recognize the coding of the first levels of the files. It cannot be anything other than the Codex. Mother and Father didn’t know, but I accessed the Codex when I first started to test my cybernetics. I would recognize it anywhere, even if I hadn’t been able to access the time locked files at the time.”

“It still doesn’t make sense. How can this file have information about the others before most of them were born?”

“Nothing about the Shadow Codex makes rational sense, Alli. I can only guess some kind of metahuman is responsible for it. But how they gained the knowledge or why they chose to distribute it the way they did is a complete mystery, even to me.”

Alli didn’t know what else to say. Her stories of the Court of Shadows and GENESIS were hard to believe, but grounded in reality. But this Shadow Codex seemed impossible. It would take an oracle with access to technology beyond even the most invasive government in the world. She couldn’t wrap her head around what that could mean. If what Kaihime said was true, her entire life could be an open book to this mysterious figure, from her birth to her death. She felt a shiver run down her spine at the thought.

“You seem worried,” Kaihime said. “At least I think you do. I’m still not good with emotional responses.”

“No. Yeah. Maybe. I don’t know. I just can’t fathom the idea of some kind of internet oracle without a bit of trepidation. It’s a terrifying idea.”

“You amuse me, Allison Finch. You fear the unknown, but you surround your entire life with it. I do understand this dichotomy, yet it fascinates me.”

“I guess I’m glad for you. At least one of us should be happy.”

“Happiness is relative. But I am excited to live life among real people, even if it means a battle for the very existence of mankind. GENESIS must be stopped.”

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 20-4

Alli grabbed the keys to the Spirit-Mobile “Alright, you win. Let’s go. But I want answers.”

A minute later, they were streaking back out onto the darkening city streets, on their way to an address a bit too close to a previous visit. This Ziya lived not far from the shop they first encountered Smith, a seeming ally that was secretly the Greek god Hermes. She doubted they were off to meet another deity in disguise, but the neighborhood was choppy at best. Going there this late in the evening could come with trouble.

As she cut from Hoover Avenue to MLK Drive, she glanced Kaihime’s way. The cyborg didn’t meet her eyes. This was body language Alli could understand. She didn’t know why Kaihime wasn’t comfortable with sharing this specific piece of information after all she revealed about Doppelganger’s employers.

“Why don’t you want to tell me about the flash drive? What do you know about it?”

“I do not know that much. It was something of a legend among my parents and their peers. They called it the Shadow Codex. It appeared on certain bulletin boards back in 1985, long before the internet was a common concept to anyone. At the time it had several more layers, layers which have vanished over time. The first layer contained information on the Court of Shadows itself, which drew the ire of the higher echelon of the court. They sought to eradicate it from everywhere it was placed, even wiping out entire boards in order to erase it. But it kept popping up again and again. They couldn’t edit it nor could they stop it from appearing. So they set out to take control of the early internet. But they didn’t understand the anarchic nature of those boards. Many early adopters were already terribly paranoid of government oversight, so they only managed to disseminate the information even wider.”

“That doesn’t make sense. Why wouldn’t everyone know about the Court of Shadows then?”

“Agents of the Court realized they couldn’t stop the information no matter how hard they tried. Instead they created bundles of false information, similar to the Shadow Codex. They were basically games built for hackers and cryptographers, but were far easier to unlock than the true Codex. By the time the world wide web started to take over for the boards, they were basically considered all works of fiction. Then the Shadow Codex disappeared entirely in early 1995. Again the Court didn’t know how such a thing was possible, but they maintained a copy for their own records. They’ve researched it ever since, even as time locked portions of it suddenly started to open. That’s the only reason they have your records. They were never able to open more than a few bits of information on their own. And so it sat until your friend Ian stole the information from them.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 20-3

A minute later, Kaihime turned around with a knowing nod. “There, I’ve got access. I will call the information up on the screen so that you can read it.”

A simple desktop folder appeared on the screen. It contained three text files. One was marked List while the others were simply called A and B.

“I’ve scanned them all. No sign of viruses. List looks the most promising however.”

Without touching the keyboard, Kaihime opened up the file called List. A text window filled the screen. The three entries were quite basic, simply names and addresses of three more River City residents. It looked exactly like the list Ian pulled Marilyn and the others’ names from. She recognized all the streets, but none of the names. Still she read them out loud, her eyes narrowed in curiosity.

“Ziya Basara. Eliasz Kucharski. Hope Le Roi. Doesn’t give us anything else to go on. How can we be sure they can help us?”

“We can’t,” Kaihime said. “But we know they are names chosen for a reason. They were hidden on here for a reason. We must have faith those reasons will help us find a way to stop GENESIS.”

“Look, Kaihime. You’ve asked me to take way too much on faith already. But you act like this drive is some kind of oracle. You already said it was written before we were even born. None of that makes any sense. You can’t have me believe—”

“Does speaking with ghosts make any sense? Yet a Spirit Cop exists in this city to help people commune with the lost. How about a woman hidden beneath a city development, surrounded by the corpses of people missing for fifty years. Or a Greek god walking among humanity while his family live quietly in Rhode Island. Are any of your stories so far beyond belief that you cannot believe what I tell you?”

“I—I don’t know. Look, my life has been nothing but a giant complication for the last week. I lost my best friend. My girlfriend has disappeared on me not once, but twice. All I need is some answers. Where did these files come from?”

Kaihime withdrew the filaments from the computer and turned towards Alli. Her face was a puzzle as she studied Alli’s own. The cyborg offered very little expression to indicate at all what she was thinking.

“You will have your answers, but we will have to talk about it as we go. We must find these people before GENESIS does. We have the drive now, but there’s no way to know how much of the information they were able to copy, encrypted or not.”