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.
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.
“Fifty fifty chance.” The boy insisted. “Heads for salvation… Tails for…”
A lava red glow burned behind the boy’s jagged smile. “Fifty… Fifty.”
A once a century, secret Congress of the most powerful and influential monsters of all nationalities, species, and realms. A parlay among humanity’s predators. He was tasked with surveilling the meeting by the foolish and misguided Humanic Order. He had greater plans. The Order will thank him whence the smoke clears.
Red Vampire, the host, was in his cross-hairs. Succubus brides trailing behind him, arranging and rearranging furniture. Preparing for their big feast.
She licked the venomous gloss from her lips. Swallowed hard.
It’s done. Now it was her turn. To die. To set herself free.
The negligee she wore was literally to die for. Red and glossy all over with a candy coated sheen. She was a heartshaped box of chocolate wrapped in a silk ribbon. To die for.
The perfect outfit for the perfect night.
She admired the full Red Moon– shades lighter than her silk negligee. She admired the shining constellations. Tracing them with her fingertips. Admired the post-midnight darkness spreading illusions of clean, shimmering Rose City harbors. She knew better.
“Proud now, mother?” She laughed as she dried tears.
One kiss. One taste of her poison. Widows orgasm. Slow agonizing death in a lipstick dispenser.
She’d taken vials of his blood. A sweet chaser for her champagne and deadly venom she concocted for him.
She longed for the power to resurrect the dead. So she can disarm him again with her pleasure. So she can reintroduce him to the worst agony. Over and over again. For several goddam eternities.
She finished her aged champagne. Tossed the bottle over the railing.
“Fuck!” She screamed into the watery abyss below.
His face. Etched into her nightmares. Her wrists.
She took years preparing body and mind for him. Advanced degree. Martial arts. Gun ranges were her sanctuary. The men she fucked. Women. The countless people she killed. Mobsters. Assassins. Law enforcement. Friends. Her innocence. Her humanity. Parts of her capable of feeling love. She murdered them all. For him. And all it took was a simple kiss. She wanted more. Needed more from him. There had to be more.
She climbed over the bridge railing. Tightroped along the slippery edge.
Murdering him was supposed to release her. Free them from purgatory. But slaying the demon only blackened her void.
Turbulent waves below. Sharp concrete slabs from broken platforms blanketed by waters.
She’d condemned herself to hell. Their faces were fading. He’s rotting but still robbing her of everything. She’ll jump. She’ll shatter on impact. She’ll drown and see their faces clearly once again.
The memory of his body turning cold made her lip quiver. Warmed her pelvis.
She gripped the railing. Clasped her eyes.
The sound of the crashing waters a hundred feet below piqued memories of the spa where she ended his life. Of her breasts pressed against his slender, muscular frame.
I… hate.. you…
She parted her robe. Parted her lower lips with her fingertips. Slow, deep circular motions to spread the wetness running down her thighs.
Her one-handed grip on the rail was slackening.
She bit down hard on her bottom lip as her body erupted.
“You… took… Everything… from… me.” She moaned.
Fwoop! A sharp pinch on her neck.
Warmth vanished. Replaced with arctic cold. Rage. Dizziness.
She faced her assailant.
“My love.” He withdrew the needle from her neck.
“You!” She jerked away from him and lost her grip on the railing.
She stomped on the demon’s chest. Used the leverage to dislodge the divinespear of E’lees from itsbelly.
The Demon’s breaths were shallow. Its crushed rib cage slowly rising and sinking beneath her heels. Its long, shattered wings flapping wildly as if trying to escape its broken body.
The Demon spat in her face. “Finish me, insect!”
She plunged the consecrated spear through the Demon’s left eye. Twisted. Drilled it into the back of its skull. No regeneration this time.
Swooooosh! Escaped souls fired from the Demon’s socket. Ricocheted through the room like vexed lightning.
She raised the glowing spear to deliver the finishing thrust.
“Prophecy always prevails,” The Demon whispered.
Not this time.
She spent her childhood training to combat her so-called prophecy. Awaiting battle against the fate, clerics and superstitious townspeople claimed was inescapable. One strike to its remaining eye and none of it comes to pass. One more strike and she’s free.
The Demon cackled. “See ya.”
She plunged the spear into the Demon’s remaining eye.
Shrieking souls exploded from its skull. Destroyed her remaining dark magic artifacts and sigils in the room. Shattered the towering stain-glass windows.
She withdrew the spear. Wiped demon’s bile from her eyes. Lowered from its corpse before collapsing to a knee upon landing.
“E’lees,” She praised.
She couldn’t free every abducted soul. The souls used for sustenance and to power the Demon’s machines… Gone forever.
“E’lees, forgive me.”
She trained the spear on the quivering Demon.
Hiss… The Demon’s form disintegrated to ash. The ash quickly dissolved in the breeze.
Its done. The goddess E’lees granted her strength. The will. The arsenal. All she needed to defeat the Demon. To defeat prophecy. To prove mortals weren’t slaves to destiny.
Iku… I’m coming home.
She shuffled to a shattered window to bathe in the the sunlight. To inhale the sweet scent of grass on the breeze. To take in the sound of caroling birds.
Hell’s ice was thawing. Life was returning to the region. She was going home where there were endless hills, waterfalls and flowers.
To see Iku… To disembowl every thing you love.
Murderous thoughts increasing. Defeaning. Consciousness being crushed. Replaced by another.
Kill them all. Destroy everything… you… I care about.
“I defeated you!” She took an attack position. “You’re-”
“Ach!” She rolled up her sleeve.
Black scales formed on her arms and across her collar bone. Organs rapidly shifting. Expanding. Growing.
She’s dying. But she’d never felt stronger. More alive.
“I’m sorry.” She released the spear.
She jerked forward. Landed on all fours.
They tore through her flesh. Her shoulder blades. Her prickly black wings whooshed angrily.
She cried. Tears of pain. Tears of sadness. Tears of laughter.
Prophecy prevailed as it should. She gleefully embraced what she’s meant to become… The Scale Lord.World devourer. Her true self. Fate.
Never felt this way before. Weak… Falling to pieces… In love. So in love.
He’d escaped from the trunk of an old car. Gutted two watchmen patrolling the area. Kept one alive for questioning.
She used something potent. A deadly agent. He died twice. Returned once. For another taste of her succulent lips. Her poison kiss. An aphrodisiac. The things she did to him. She’s the closest to heaven he’d ever be.
“Where’s this?” He struck the guard.
“Scrapyard.” Guard trembled.
He narrowed his eyes. Scanned area for landmarks.
Grandmother’s tune flooding my thoughts…
“Not yet.” He whispered an answer to his grandmother’s calls.
“What?” Guard looked frightened and perplexed.
Eyes blurring. Glowing, mountainous silhouettes of city skylines. The ports. Shipping containers across rivers.
Definitely the East Side. Cross town. Way across town. She meant for me to disappear. Cars get crushed in the morning.
“Who dropped me?” He asked.
He snapped the Guard’s pinky finger.
“A woman?” He gently gripped another finger.
“Six… Six hours. No seven.”
“Six or seven?”
“Seven! Right after second shift.”
No weapons. No matter. He’s efficient with bare hands. Precise. Guard better not try anything.
He thought of her hands as he dragged Guard by the hair into the security room.
Thoughts of her caressing his chest. Writing love letters in cursive with her fingernails down his stomach.
He ordered Guard into a corner.
“I’m sorry,” Guard pleaded.
“I know,” he replied.
He recalled footage. Hours ago.
His heart fluttered…
An angelic woman. Graceful. Pure sorcery in blood red silk as she dragged his body to the trunk before disappearing off camera. Our first dance.
The bridge. Certain that’s where she’s heading.
They were connected. Intertwined. She’s everything to him. Everything he never knew he needed.
“Your phone,” He demanded.
Guard slowly offered his phone. “You were dead, man.”
“I believe you,” He calmly replied.
Guard had pictures in his phone. Loving wife. Kids.
Love didn’t exist to him until six… no, seven hours ago. Before his killer wrapped her lips around him.
Screen glaring. Characters blurring. Head throbbing.
He pushed call.
“Hello?” A woman answered.
“Hello, sister.” He replied.
“Starvation. Pestilence. War. Death,” Sister said.
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.
“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.
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.”
Assassins were bewitched by her smile. Her thickness. Her full, succulent lips. Her sharp glances, piercing him deep.
His hand trembled as he aimed.
His red dot. Between her bosoms. Inches left of her frozen heart. All he had to do was squeeze. Empty his clip and end it.
“Someone hired you?” She asked.
“Yes,” He replied.
“Someone who don’t like you much.”
She stepped closer.
“What’s stopping you?”
“Nothing.” He didn’t know what else to reply. Disoriented. Weak. Blind with desire. Consumed. She disarmed him with a smirk.
That’s all it took. A smirk.
His grandmother forewarned him about her. Son… Karma will come for you… His grandmother would say. And poison you with her smile…
He never took his grandmother seriously. An old southern woman with superstitions and stories of evil spirits and spells. And curses. She wasn’t one to take seriously. She undressed him. Button by button. Backed him slowly towards the pool. He couldn’t help himself. Frozen. Immobile. She circled him as she disrobed. Lassoed his neck with her nightwear. Lead him towards the bubbling Jacuzzi. Stripped him of everything he had. Gun. Knife. Keys. His free will.
“Want to know something?” She asked.
“I knew you’d come.” She pressed her warm body against his. “You have a possession of mine.”
“Your heart?” He answered.
“No,” she replied.
She was calm. Unlike her heart. Her heart raced.
She pulled close. Fulfilled one desire. Fulfilled desires he was unaware of.
“You owe me something,” She said.
“Want to know what?” She asked.
She tiptoed to reach his ear.
“Life. You owe me a life.” She whispered.
He staggered back. Wiped his nose.
Leaking nostrils. Red covering his fingertips.
She kissed him on the cheek. “For all the lives you ruined.”
He heard his grandmother’s voice… Calling.
Come on home, son… face judgment.
No… Not yet… Please. Not now.
He collapsed. Struggled to move. Breathe.
“Sleep well, my love.” She smiled. “Send the devil my deepest regards.”
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.