The GatheringFandom (is so, include details) or Non Fandom?:
Non Fandom (ie. Original)Chapter Number:
M (due to language & adult content... not entirely sure where this thing is going)Summary:
In 1692 a group of witches sacrificed their powers to prevent death. Almost 3.5 centuries later, these powers have befallen new generations. Those that would be heroes are lost. It is up to those who are left behind to save themselves & the world they're in.Author's Notes:
The precipice of destructionChapter Fourteen
Walking up the steep driveway to his newly acquired house, Justin tossed the front door keys in his hand. The sky was dark at this late hour and the street was equally quiet, but Justin knew that his parents had only picked the best, most affordable and most convenient area for him to live in so there would be no trouble. Fortunately they did not expect him to pay the house off alone on his meager wage and were happy to contribute with the bills so long as he acted responsibly. It was a rarity among most parents, Justin had discovered, that they would be so supportive. Justin continued to tell them he would pay them back the moment he turned professional, but with his training still in progress and sponsors not exactly beating down his door, he knew that was a long way off.
The house before him was a large purple fixture, not exactly Justin’s favourite colour but it wasn’t the thing that had drawn him to the place originally. It was the slant of the front staircase and the length of the hillcrest driveway that had prompted many a thought of skating his way out of the house. Sure, the tall pine trees to the right provided nice shade and all, but the concrete was the thing that impressed him most. Plus the fact that there really wasn’t any way to see in – an added bonus in case something nasty happened as it would obscure the view from nosy neighbours. The lack of light also made it easy to conceal people. Like now.
“Justin,” Ashley said, leaping to his feet from his seated position on the stairway. Justin jumped, holding his hand out in preparation to use one of his assorted powers. When he saw it was Ashley, however, he lowered his hand again and sighed. “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting here for ages.”
“Penny, dude,” were the only two words Justin felt necessary to use.
“Oh,” Ashley said. “Is she alright?”
“As can be,” Justin said. He looked up to the front door, wondering now if he should have invited her to stay at his place. He could have slept on the couch or something.
“What’s she going to do?”
“I don’t know.” He gestured up the stairs. “Do you want to come in?”
Ashley nodded. Moving to one side he allowed Justin to get past and followed him up to the front door. Justin pushed it open and barely stepped through the threshold before a clicking of nails sounded over the linoleum floor and the dog raced straight for him from the kitchen. Justin bent, allowing the dog to jump onto his legs and rubbed his hand vigorously over the dog’s fur.
“You been a good boy? Huh? Been a good boy for Uncle Seb?” Justin asked. With a soft push against Chase’s body, the dog scampered away.
There was no wall between the living room and the front door. The room sat openly to the left containing very little other than a couch and a television. There was a stand in the corner which had a small selection of science fiction and action movies on there, but very little else. Justin passed behind the couch and headed straight for the kitchen counter, placing his keys on the edge of the bench. Ashley took a seat on one of the two stools which were available as Justin opened the refrigerator.
“Thirsty?” he queried.
“Parched,” Ashley returned.
Grabbing two bottles of beer, Justin placed them on the counter and flipped the lids off with his hand, though the offending hand was nowhere near the actual bottles.
“That is so cool,” Ashley said. Justin shrugged.
“Saves dishes,” he said then smiled as he raised the bottle to his lips.
“Couldn’t you have given me some of those powers when you ‘woke’ mine up?” Ashley questioned.
“Doesn’t work that way,” Justin said. “It’s some gene DNA assemblage thing. Or at least that’s the way my dad explains it.”
“He should be a scientist,” Ashley said, holding his beer bottle towards Justin to make his point before drinking from it.
“He doesn’t want the prestige,” Justin returned.
“So he’s just going to Clark Kent his way through by being a lowly accountant?” Ashley paused, thinking about it as he took another drink. “Though, still, he’d be getting a decent pay packet.”
“Hence my independence,” Justin said, spreading his arms wide to encompass the whole house.
“Hence? You trying to be one of us now?” Ashley joked. “Or are you really hiding some intelligence in that brain of yours?”
“Nah, spending too much time around Penny. I’m starting to absorb things.”
“Maybe she’s pushing things into your brain. A little telepathic word here and there,” Ashley suggested. Justin put the bottle back on the counter, his eyes widening. Ashley laughed. “Dude, I was just kidding.”
“Dude, don’t even!” Justin warned. “She probably could.”
“I think you’re giving a twenty year old a little too much credit.”
“Says the wise man,” Justin said, ruffling up his hair.
Ashley screwed his nose up. “Not really.”
“What brings you here anyway, Kimosabe?” Justin asked.
“Needed a break. From Shae,” he said.
“Not going well?”
“There’s only so many times you can make excuses for the weird stuff that happens. I don’t like lying to her.”
“What am I supposed to say? Shae, I’m a witch, I’ve got these funky powers which help me skate that apparently I got from my father, though considering the fuckwit ran out on us before I was even born I’m never going to know. Oh, and this is a demon.”
“Harsh, man,” Justin critiqued.
“It’s not like you and Penny. At least you both know about this magical world stuff. It’s easy for you two.”
“Um.” Justin swallowed. “You know there’s nothing going on between me and Penny, right?”
“You just spent a whole day and night with her but nothing’s going on,” Ashley said. Slamming the bottle down on the bench, he looked at him with astonishment. “I am ashamed to call you my friend.”
“It wasn’t like that,” Justin said in his defence.
“You two have been going ga-ga over each other for more than six months. Grow a pair, man!”
“Don’t hark on me, dude. You won’t even talk to your girlfriend!”
“Hey, I came for support not a lecture,” Ashley said. “And I wasn’t making any presumptions, just observations. I was just trying to say it’d be nice to have what you have.”
“It doesn’t feel like much sometimes,” Justin said, picking at the label on the bottle.
“It’s way more than what the rest of us have,” Ashley said. “Good luck with training tomorrow, hey?”
Justin glanced to the clock on the wall. “Great. Let’s see how fast I fall on four hours sleep.”
“No rest for the wicked,” Ashley said with a shake of his head.
Glancing behind him he gave Justin a final wave before disappearing into the night, a thick gust of wind all that remained of his presence. Justin caught the second bottle before it plummeted to the ground.
“Wicked I am,” he said, dropping the empty beer bottles into the bin.* * *
“Here,” Mercy said, holding out two purple pills in one hand and a glass of water in the other. David observed her offering with disdain. “You can’t perform magic rituals if you’re not coherent.”
“I beg to differ,” David disagreed.
“You don’t believe me?” she asked. “How many spells have you succeeded at while drunk?”
“I’m not drunk,” he insisted.
“So you keep telling me.” She watched him flop down onto the couch in the attic, lifting his hand to his head as he closed his eyes. “Has your world stopped spinning since your last drink?”
“It’s…” he began, opening his eyes to look at her. His head lolled forward and he pressed his fingers to his forehead, lifting it back up again. “Perhaps you’ve drugged me.”
“That wouldn’t make any sense, now, since I need you,” she said. She walked around the couch, placing the glass on the table and sitting on the edge beside him. Again she offered him the two tablets. “Are you going to take these before you pass out, or am I going to have to ram them down your throat?”
Taking them from her hand, he tossed them into his mouth one at a time, using the glass of water she had provided to swallow them down. Never for a moment did his eyes leave her, untrustworthy as he thought her to be. If this was his fate to have it all end here then so be it. There wasn’t much to live for anyway.
“Stop looking at me like I’ve just given you cyanide pills,” Mercy said. “They’re vitamin tablets. Very common.”
“They’re purple,” David returned.
“Grapefruit coating,” Mercy said, though she didn’t entirely know what was in them. She only knew they were one of many medically supplied enhancers the Phoenix had given her. “So where’s this book?”
“Third shelf. Or fourth,” David said. He waved his arm backwards with a sweep to the right as she repositioned herself in front of the bookcase. “Over that way somewhere.”
She traced a finger over the titles, searching for the one he had mentioned to her earlier. She stopped when she reached a glossy white covered book, the curved red writing running down the length of the spine, and turned back to him as she tugged the book out slightly.
“Sex magic spells?” she queried. It wasn’t an area she considered he would have a problem in. He was quite appealing to the eye after all.
He shifted his position so that he had a clearer view of her, the smile broad on his face. “Yes. It heightens the pleasure of love-making. You should try it sometime.”
Rapidly she pushed the book back into place, avoiding his gaze as her face flushed and she busied her hands finding the title they needed. She had only come for one reason but was finding many more to stay. Her fiancé had been gone only six months yet her thoughts were now unwillingly straying to this new man and all his attributes. She could still feel the warmth of his hands against her back; remember the way his tongue had delved inside her mouth.
“Right about there,” David instructed.
She froze. Her eyes scanned everything in front of her until she found the book she was looking for – yellow and aged, black print on the cover. She withdrew it from the shelf, holding it up for his inspection as she walked back to him. She was careful to seat herself in a separate chair this time.
“The twenty-one spells of Orelius,” she said, handing him the book. “Would one of these be time manipulation?”
“We’re not manipulating anything,” he said, glancing up from the pages towards her. “We’re going to access a window to the past and review your tale.”
“I’m telling you the truth,” she insisted.
“You’re telling me a story I’ve yet to verify.”
She sighed in defeat, unable to convince the witch without him being able to see for himself. “What do you need?”
“Water. Four wood-scented candles. A piece of twine. And the blood of a seer.”
“A seer?” Mercy questioned. She hadn’t anticipated going out again, especially in search of a blood sacrifice.
David folded the book closed, sitting it on his lap. “I might just have one of those handy.”* * *
An unnatural chill roused Penny from her slumber. Her head ached from the tears she had shed earlier, and the light from the hallway cast disturbing shadows within her room. She had the sense that someone was watching her. Uncurling from her position, she opened her eyes trying to adjust them to the darkness.
“Justin?” she called in a low whisper. Reaching around her she felt that he was gone. And the watching feeling wasn’t coming from nearby, the feeling seemed to be at a distance behind her. She lifted her body and turned, raising a hand to shield her eyes from the bright light streaming through the door. There was a shadow there, someone with his arms folded leaning against the frame. The light gave him a somewhat angelic quality as it highlighted the edges of his blonde hair. “Uncle Michael?”
“No. Guess again. You’ve got one more strike, kid, then you’re out.”
“Go away, David,” Penny said, flopping back down onto the pillows.
“I put some thought into what you said to me earlier,” he said, ignoring her request. He flipped the light switch on. Penny blinked a few times, rubbing at her eyes in a desperate attempt to clear them quickly. She peered at the clock on her bedside table. “And you’re right, I didn’t want you here.”
“And you thought waking me up at two in the morning was the best way to tell me?” she accused.
“You took over my room, did you know that? Sure I got to share with Chris for a little while before moving into that dusty attic…”
“You like the attic,” Penny said, slipping off the edge of the bed as he took the china doll into his hands from atop the dresser. “You never let anyone into the place!”
“Do you know what it’s like to lose everything, Penny? Do you know what it’s like when you’ve lost your family, your possessions, everything that belonged to you and everything you ever cared about?”
Letting herself go just enough to prod the very edges of his mind, she saw what he was about to do and lunged for the doll. “No!”
He lifted his hand, throwing the china doll with great force onto the ground. It shattered into hundreds of small bisque pieces. Penny dropped to her knees, shifting the larger pieces towards her in the hope that she would somehow be able to put it back together. The china doll was all that she had to remind her of her father – he had given it to her mother when they’d first met in Germany. Although they were both from Woodcroft they had not bumped into each other until that day – he had been a travel writer working on his next assignment in Berlin, she just a college schoolgirl following a big lead on a family kidnapping case. She had seen the doll in a store window one day and been amused by the name Frozen Charlotte – it had reminded her of her older sister. Her father had seen this and bought the doll for her. It had been Carla’s most treasured possession ever since, passed onto Penny at the time of her death.
“Now you know what it’s like,” David said.
“You sick bastard,” she said. “They should lock you up in an institution somewhere.”
“I’m angry, yes, upset, of course, but I know I’m not crazy.” Telekinetically he lifted her back to her feet. “And you’re wrong about one thing. I’m not trying to destroy my family. I’m trying to bring them back together.”
Confused by his words and fearing he was about to indulge in some necromantic practice, Penny turned her head slightly and focused more intently on his mind. His thoughts were ugly and dark, full of magic, pain and blood sacrifice. Namely, her own.
“Stop invading my mind!” he shouted.
She fell back fearfully, scrambling to grab hold of something to fend him off with. She had no chance of dashing past him and no way to get herself out of his direct path except through the open window behind her. Her desk being the closest accessible furnishing, she mindlessly laid her hand upon it, searching for the lamp or the laptop or something she could hit him with. She felt something brush by her arm and crawl over her hand, a soft hissing sound breaking the silence. Glancing towards the desk she saw that all the cords were absent and had been replaced by snakes. There were at least six of them, all slithering across the wood or climbing over her skin. She shrieked, pulling her hand away and shaking it as hard as she could to remove the thin vagrants. Her attention now successfully distracted, David used his telekinesis to lift her from the floor and throw her across the room. Her back slammed into the wall above her bed. She could feel the punk pop music poster behind her tearing from its position as she struggled against his telekinetic grasp. It buckled, scratching her legs as it fluttered into a fan folded position behind the bed. Her feet slipped off the very top of the metal as she tried to find a foothold to relieve the pressure on her larynx. She couldn’t find a voice and as she looked to her cousin she saw his eyes only darkened as he closed his fingers in tighter.Jus… Justin. Justin, help me.
Her thoughts were desperate and pleading, almost as breathless as her body. She had no idea if he would be able to hear her. She had only ever implemented her telepathy to listen not speak.
The light seemed to be fading around the room, everything narrowing down to the one man at the end of her bed. She gasped, struggling to take in another breath. Despite the pain deep in her chest she could still feel the nauseous feeling sink in her stomach as she realized with sickening perception that nobody would be able to save her. Nobody could reach her in time. She couldn’t even save herself.