Iku’s Defeat

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Read “Scale-Lord’s Victory” here

My hallowed sword. Clear as ice. Invisible to mortal eyes. Her’s was the red dagger. Black edges. Boisterous. Hellish. Magma. My off-hand weapon.

I stalked her.

Her dagger-like nails. She swiftly peeled through my sanctified steel.

Now!

I flung Ice at her eye. Cleaved down on her wings with Magma.

Unholy rage. Desperation. Love.

Ice shattered like glass on impact. Magma snapped in threes.

She cackled. “Hopeless boy…”

I scrambled for the shattered weapons.

Useless weapons! Lying old shaman! 

Phwoosh!

Wings sliced over my head. Clipped my knotted mane.

“Enough!” I pleaded.

E’lees… save her.  

I retrieved pieces of Magma in stealth.

Enchanted weapons were her last hope to retrieve what’s left . Of her.

She summoned machines. Slicing. Crushing. Machines.

I screamed. “Stop!”

She took flight. Whipped her wings. Summoned gusts of wind which pinned me against a crumbling column.

My despair dissolved to acceptance.

I failed. 

I braced my body for a pain worse than death.

She caressed my cheek. “Oh, Iku…”

Pity in her demonic tone. Pity for me.

I opened my teary eyes.

Wings. Leathery skin.  All vanished in favor of her angelic flesh.

“Stop fighting.” She cuffed my cheek.

I looked away.

Tricks. Glamour.

You wear her flesh. But you are not her.

I unearthed her broken Magma.

“Be with me,” She pleaded.

Fine. 

I drove Magma into my chest.

To be with her. In oblivion.

Her wings sprouted. Form shifted from flesh to scales.

“Iku!” She shrieked and collapsed the temple on top of us.

 

 

 

Fifty Fifty

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He heard a chorus of whistles. Familiar tunes. Old slave spirituals he sang in Sunday School.

He paused. Considered turning back. Kept walking.

Something about suffering and Christ and finding salvation in heaven. Lyrics he didn’t believe… Not until Lucifer offered him free, fluorescent bottles of Moonshine. Money. Love. Promises of salvation. The catch… meet him in the alley.

He stepped through puddles.

Blood. Warm to the touch.

Money. Respect. Fame. Every desire. For something intangible. Illogical. Something he didn’t believe in…until the Devil offered him everything he desired. For a price. His most valuable asset.

Tightness in his stomach as he turned the corner. Into the alley.

The smell of sulfur was at its peak. Nausea.

He gripped his pistol in his pocket with one hand. Crucifix around his neck with the next.

Tink! Tink! The coin flips echoed through the alley. Pap! Pap! Spotlights exploded around him.

The sulfur. The nausea in his stomach. The impure thoughts.

He was getting closer.

The sharply dressed boy awaited him under the remaining spotlight.

Last time it was a woman. A woman who resembled his childhood sweetheart. The Devil loved to play games.

Smack!

The boy snatched coin out of the air. Pointed a fist in his direction.

“Play?” The boy asked.

He shook his head.

“Heads or tails?” The Boy inquired.

“I don’t-”

“Fifty fifty chance.” The boy insisted. “Heads for salvation… Tails for…”

For… Damnation?

A lava red glow burned behind the boy’s jagged smile. “Fifty… Fifty.”

 

 

The Upside I

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Zay promised to never look back. Or down. Only up. At the perfectly capsized city in the clouds.

Clearest skies on record since the mirror world –The Upside– emerged from the smogosphere, according to Templar meteorologists. Its the divine sign he’d been praying for. Do what’s necessary. Take flight. For Shalewa.

He pumped the burners.

Balloon ascending. Turbulence. Thinning oxygen.

Flying a hastily built helium-craft composed of antiquated parts from abandoned shipyards was high-risk. Highly illegal. Suicidal. Still… far safer than returning to the Seminary.

Shalewa tiptoed to peer over the edge. “Is that heaven?”

He gently pulled Shalewa back. “Just another city.”

“Mommy and daddy there?”

“Possibly.”

Mirror versions, but their parents nonetheless.

Shalewa smiled. “Great.”

His sister was smart for her age. Much brighter than he was.

Chilly. Temperature dipping.

“Will we feel upside down?” Shalewa asked.

“It’ll feel like normal.”

Or so he’d heard from Solomonic diplomats who’ve visited the Upside.

“But then, our city will be the one upside down,” Shalewa said.

“Correct,” He replied.

“Interesting…”

Rising doubts… They’re breaking laws and risking lives to meet strangers. A selfish, dangerous plot. But… Shalewa deserves better. She needed parents, even if they’re doppelgangers of the ones they lost.

“Are versions of us there?” Shalewa asked.

“Maybe,” He answered.

Shalewa bit her fingernails. “What if they hate us?”

“They wont…”

“But what if?”

Zay felt for the pistol with the disintegration rounds hidden in his belt.

Then we’ll have to replace them…

He pinched Shalewa’s nose. “Don’t worry.”

Michaela’s Price

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They summoned me early…

Humans gathered in the city square. Visibly frightened but with an unmistakable resolve in their eyes.

They offered me no praise, nor sacrifices they’ve owed me.

“You no longer want immortality,” I concluded.

I wasn’t the creator, but I protected them as such. And unlike my mother– the creator, I was conflicted. Caught between virtuous duties as a cosmic being, and obligations I bestowed upon myself when I shielded them from extinction.

“We’re grateful,” The Governor declared. “But we can no longer offer you our children.”

I was not mother. My power required Life for life. An expensive, but unavoidable cost. Draining my own cosmic well could be catastrophic for all realities.

“You’ll be erased,” I warned.

Governor wiped tears.  “We understand.”

They chose offspring over immortality. Perplexing.

“Are you certain?” I asked.

Governor nodded.

I summoned swords. “Worship me.”

“Okay…” Governor’s face ashened. “Michaela.”

‘Michaela”…  the embodiment of mother’s wrath. The sword with dreams of being a shield.

My protective seal appeared above the city.

I wished to give, not take life. But they left me no choice.

I raised a sword to the exosphere. Let it simmer in the hellish heat before cleaving the seal with angry force

My seal shattered on impact. Mother can see them now.  The city and everything in it, turned to dust.

Damn you, mother. 

I felt rage. Sadness. Guilt.

Brother was right to rebel.

“Mother!” I slashed gashes in reality. “Show yourself!”

I leveled my swords at Heaven.

 

Joshua’s Moon

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I approached Joshua with caution.

We were in a twenty floor high rise overlooking the FDR Drive. Joshua was having an intense episode and dangerously near an open window.

“Where’s Joshua?” I discreetly pulled the syringe from its case.  “Can you get Joshua for me?”

“He’s resting,” Joshua calmly answered.

“Wake him.”

Joshua faced me. “No.”

My son’s illness had returned with a vengeance. The prescribed medicines were useless. Ineffective.

“Why not?” I asked.

“It hurts him to say goodbye.”

My stomach turned. “Goodbye?”

“He perceives what’s at stake.” Joshua sat on the window sill.

“Slow down, honey.”

“He understands sacrifice.” Joshua pointed to the moon, revealing cuts on his forearms. “I must take his body.”

Not this again, I thought.

“What happens if you take it?”

“Joshua goes wherever things go when they cease to exist.”

“He’ll die?”

“I’m unsure if nothingness is akin to dying.”

Now’s my chance.

I snatched Joshua from the window and pinned him to the ground.

“The earth is in peril.” Joshua didn’t struggle. “I’m the planets only hope.”

Nothing behind his eyes. The boy talking was not my Joshua.

I injected the needle into his arm.

Warmth immediately returned to Joshua’s eyes.

“Mom?” Josh whimpered.

I squeezed him tight.

“No!” He ripped away from me and rushed the window.

“Joshua!” I chased Joshua to the window.

The view of the sky weakened my knees. Impossible.

The moon. Crumbling to pieces.

“Why didn’t you let me go?” Josh asked with tears in his eyes.

Ghoul’s Night Out

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She perused the menu of the expensive, five pentagram rated restaurant.

A posh, dark ages style torture room decor with stunning views of the unholiest realms.

Perfect for their Ghoul’s night out.

“Let’s see it,” Bestie demands.

She reaches her ring hand across the table.

Bestie closely examines the gem. “Two trapped souls?!”

“I know!” She shrieks.

“Lucky ghoul.”

“And… he loves children,” She adds. “Lightly seasoned… Well done.”

“Your fave.”

“Ahhh… bestie remembers!”

Fiery portals open above their tables. Flaming tentacles place two cauldrons of Boiling Hot primordial soup before them.

“Roanoake U Coven reunion tomorrow.” Bestie tastes the soup.

“The Black Lipstick slut sorority?”

Bestie squints. “Didn’t you pledge?”

“Yes… Before you sacrificed me to the demon, Bilquis.”

Bestie nods. “You’re welcome.”

“Whatever.” She laughs. “Hows dating life?”

Tentacles deliver blood champagne.

“Screwed one of the four,” Bestie answers.

“Horseman?”

Bestie smirks. “Famine.”

“Thought you’d prefer War.”

Too aggressive.”

“Wow… You’ve matured.”

“Two hundredth birthday just passed.”

“Happy belated.”

“I guess…” Bestie frowns.

“Your soulless mate exists. I promise.”

“Yeah, sure,” Bestie sighs.

Explore… Date warlocks.”

“Religious nuts? No thanks.”

“Zombies?”

“Followers. One track minds.”

“Oooh, Vampires? They’re romantic.”

“Total racists.” Bestie replies.  “Briefly dated a succubus.”

“When?

“That semester in Purgatory.”

“Hmmm…. Mummies?”

“Terrible dressers.”

“Wolves?”

“Wild in bed.” Bestie flashes missing finger. “Too wild.”

“Frankenstein.”

“Happily married.”

She groans.

“Ghoul, stop! I’m… fine.”

“You sure?”

Bestie nods and raises glass. “Tonights about you and your unholy union.”

“I guess,” She raises glass.

They share a toast.

 

“Ilana’s call”

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Ilana frantically searched for her car keys and taser. She was an hour late for her tattoo appointment with ‘Freeze’, the only tattoo artist capable of drawing Buttercup and Blossom. See, Freeze was an ill-tempered and impatient drag queen with switchblades who moonlighted as a bar-tending dominatrix at a bar frequented by homicide detectives. She understood having two jobs. Understood life as an enterprising diva. Tatts and hairdos don’t pay for themselves. She needed to get her ass in her car.
She snatched her keys and was about to leave when her phone rang.
“What?” She answered.
“June’s calling,” Camaiyah said.
“Impossible,” She replied.
“Seriously.”
“Can’t be him.”
“What do I do?”
“He can’t trace anything back to you.“ She leaned against the counter. “Even if he did manage to escape.”
“Back to us.”
“Don’t do that,” Ilana warned. “There’s no us.”
“I’m not the one who hacked him.”
“You paid me. I did a job.” Ilana used her phone to trace Camaiyah’s location. “I’m just a third-”
Her phone buzzed.
“Party…” She checked her phone. “He’s calling?”
“How did he-”
“Shut up.” Ilana interrupted as she frantically pushed ignore.
But the screen was frozen. Phone kept ringing. Text and email inboxes flooding.
“Damn it.”
“What?”
Phone answered on its own. Speaker phone activated…. on its own.
“I know you’re there, Ilana,” June said.
Camaiyah was silent. Breathing hard. Swallowing spit.
“I know everything,” June said. “I just want to talk.”
‘Lies’ she thought. June wanted vengeance.
“Okay, lets talk.”

In A Dominant’s Mind

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The Dominant climbed to the top of the Junk Heap mountaintop and looked down on his creations.

The Dominant looked angry. And sure of himself.

“I built this world!” The Dominant declared.

The countless kidnapped, murdered, tortured, raped, bought, and sold Ancestors of Chattel Creations collectively narrowed their eyes at the Suburban Dominant.

“Did I not build everything?” The Dominant questioned.

Their hands. Bruised from beatings. Disfigured from twenty three hour a day labor, and weekly bone snappings when the Dominant’s ancestors didn’t believe their creations were working fast enough. Discolored from ritual burnings. Scratches from clamoring for the children being ripped from their arms. Soaked from, sweat, tears and blood. Their hands… fading slowly out of existence as its been for decades.

“Of course you did,” The Ancestor replied as they began fading from the collective consciousness of the dominants– also known as existence.

Chattels didn’t god-like, time and space altering power like the Dominant’s. How could they argue their own existence? There was no place else for them to exist and survive within a world not of their making or control– within a Dominant’s thoughts.

They lowered their hands, deciding to accept their fates and allow themselves to be faded out of existence– also known as the collective consciousness of the Dominants.

“Very good. Know your place.” The Dominant placed his flag in the center of the universe. “I claim this world and all its realities.”

The Dominant’s wiped the Creations from their minds and all of existence.

.

You’re the distraction. SMH.

Finger

He added a resource to shared spreadsheet.

This was their first meeting. First week of their weekly conference call. Something he’d been waiting for since he started that literary project so many months ago. Since he decided he wanted to write stories for a living. To be a part of an actual team full of people who shared his literary goals.

Marcey was looking in his direction. Not only looking but staring.

He tried to ignore her but couldn’t.

“Yes?” He asked Marcey.

“Nothing,” She kept staring.

It was something. He knew it was something.

“What is it?” He asked.

The kitchen was cold. Definitely a draft coming from the window.

“You cold?” He asked.

“No, you?”

He shook his head.

He considered asking adjusting the temperature. Changed his mind when he remembered Marcey’s sixty six degree rule. Heat only goes on  when temperature drops below sixty six degrees. The thermostat read seventy degrees last time he checked.

It felt colder than seventy. At least ten degrees colder.

He caught Marcey staring again.

He groaned. “Stop staring.”

“Sorry,” Marcey said. “Your hair.”

“What about it?

“Your hair’s distracting.”

“Oh lord.”

“You need a cut.”

He’d heard that distraction talk before and promised himself he wouldn’t take the bait.

“Not doing this tonight,” He said.

“Guys? You there?” Stacey asked on the phone.

He almost forgot Stacey, third writing partner and Marcey’s sibling, was on the phone. Ready to work.

“Sorry.” He raised the volume on the phone. “No more distractions.”