Warning: This chapter contains some coarse langauge, but no brutal murders.
So far Untitled - Chapter 2: A Journey
The last few miles of the journey seemed the longest. Almost everyone was silent in the early morning air. They say it's always darkest just before the dawn, but Jean didn't think this was exactly true. The air turned a deep blue which faded quickly to light orange. But that seemed moot because Jean's spine was in terrible pain, and everyone seemed to think that was funny.
She had been walking for hours, but it wasn't all walking. There was some running as their forms darted across empty highways, some climbing over fences and walls, and then there was the subway.
"I thought the subway closed after midnight around here?" she asked as they approached a station.
"That's the best part," laughed Sad Fairy, who patted her in the middle of Jean's back in a patronizing manner, "no trains!"
It was amazing how close all of them passed people who acted as if nothing was there at all. Donnabel called it, "camouflage by disassociation," or "basically, we disguise ourselves as somebody else's problem. Kind of a Ninja-like skill, but not exactly..." Just one of the many new skills Jean would have to learn.
As they jogged in the darkness of the subway tunnels, passing by underground station to underground station, Jean realized that, for a girl who had no blood, she didn't seem very tired. In fact, she also found she had almost perfect night vision and a strange sense of things around her. In addition, she seemed abnormally light, and could jump higher, run faster, and do tricks off of walls like a gymnast.
"These are skills you were reborn with. You have inherited the spirits of the Gate Keepers before you," Sad Fairy explained, with a tone in her voice like she wanted Jean to shut up. But when she stopped talking, Donnabel would fill her in, or pick her up when she tripped trying some new trick.
But Jean didn't like having a gaping hole in her collarbone. First, she had to hold it shut with her hand when she wanted to say anything without croaking or gurgling. Second, she kept sucking in things wrong, making her cough and choke. Finally, she just got used to keeping her hand there and speaking like she had laryngitis.
"How did you die?" Jean asked at one point. All three made a hissing sound with their teeth.
"We do not speak of the past," Donnabel said.
"It makes us remember. And with memories, sometimes there is regret. Regret will turn us to dust."
Or stone... Harona signed, but no one buy Sad Fairy saw her.
"But if you must know, I died by drinking poison," said Donnabel, making Sad Fairy cringe. "I was a society matron, wealthy family, heard too much, and I had a choice of killing myself or be killed."
"She talks too much, too." Sad Fairy said. "That's why Lady Sarcastia gave her that choice."
Donnabel shrugged. "I like it better as a Gate Keeper. Much more interesting. Harona here died a while back. She was brought to status by the woman who brought Lady Sarcastia over. Lady Vapora of Baltimore."
"Stupid cow," grumbled Sad Fairy.
"Why can't Harona talk?"
Harona walked backwards in front of Jean, and made signs in anger.
"She CAN talk, you imbecile," Sad Fairy said with disgust. "Can't you see her? Or does your dark vision fail you?"
"I am sorry, I... I didn't mean..."
"No, you didn't THINK. There's a difference. What you wanted to ask is, why doesn't she use her voice... idiot."
They walked a while in silence, when suddenly Donnabel whispered into Jean's ear, "Remember? Her tongue was cut out. Just so you know not to mention THAT ever again."
Jean was pretty quiet after that as the subway stations zoomed past them. Even though they were walking, it was more of a skip-step-bounce, like dance-walking on an inflatable carnival attraction. Jean wondered if they were really moving at speeds that would exceed the trains that normally use the tunnels. Sometimes, a train would come, and they would have to squeeze flat against the wall at the empty cars roared past.
After a long journey from station to station, they exited at an outdoor platform, climbed a fence, and walked along a highway. Cars passed them from time to time. Jean noticed that her breath did not fog the cold night air. She tried hard not to think about what she had done. The adrenaline, or whatever replaced it, was ebbing from her mind, and as she listened to the pattern of her feet against the gravel of the road, she started to feel a sense of doubt... about doubting. She forced feelings of regret from her mind, but she had this... need to keep talking so she didn't think. She made a small laugh to herself, remembering an incident back in high school when she accused a cheerleader of the same thing. She absently kicked at a tire when suddenly, her leg was under attack.
"Oh, Christ!" shouted Sad fairy as she tried to grab what looked like part of an old tire from Jean's leg. Donnabel and Harona also made a grab for the creature, but it slithered up Jean's back and perched on her head, making horrible growling noises.
"Shiante!" shouted Donnabel.
"No shit, Sherlock. HOLD STILL!" shouted Sad Fairy.
For what seemed like several minutes, the three circled her while the creature hissed and spit at them like an angry alley cat. Several cars passed, casting angles of light and shadow on the four of them.
"What... is ... it?" asked Jean through frozen teeth. She was glad she instinctively covered the hole near her neck before she was told to stay still because she feared the thing would try and crawl into her chest to make a nest.
"Shiante," Sad Fairy said quickly, "A sort of road spirit, hangs around ley lines. Very dangerous. A kind of spirit that sits by the side of the roads, doing whatever they do. You must have kicked or stepped on it. One that size could tear apart your head in seconds! In fact, I am surprised you still have all your limbs. Just... don't... move..."
Donnabel looked at Sad Fairy. "What do we do?"
"I don't know... I... uh... have never had to remove one from something that wasn't already destroyed. Usually you just have something breathe flame on them to piss them off, and then they run away. But lacking a dragon or a flame thrower... not to mention what Lady Sarcastia would think if we brought this package back on a kebab... I don't know."
We could wait until dawn. They hate the sun. Harona suggested. Then she had a thought, and stepped away while no one was looking.
"What happens to US in sunlight?" asked Jean suddenly.
"Your skin turns to paper, and starts to burn off of you. You brain boils, and the last few minutes of agonizing pain are punctuated by teeth exploding in your head like popcorn." Sad Fairy said. "We may have to leave you here..."
"Oh, dry up, I'm only kidding. Christ, if the sun did that to us, we'd NEVER get anything done. We're not vampires you dumb f—"
Suddenly, a Mac truck came barreling down upon them, horns honking. For a brief second, there was light, sound, and Jean spun end over end. Then all she saw was the light orange of thin clouds that appear at dawn from between some tangled weeds. She checked herself. Was she hit by a truck? Her head felt remarkably Shiante-free. She tenderly reached up and patted her hair band.
"That was a close one. Nice save, Harona," said Donnabel.
Two loud honks sounded in reply.
"Where's the package?" asked Sad Fairy.
Jean sat up and blinked.
"Oh, there. Get out of there, you dork! People pee in that ditch!"
Jean struggled out of the ditch, and wiped off weeds and piece of paper that stuck to her jacket. "Well..." she said. And then just left that unfinished thought hang in the air. She looked around, and saw the trio standing around and dusting themselves off. The dust cloud was still thin in the air from the near miss of the experience. The cars were coming more frequently now.
"Harona just hijacked a Mac truck with her mind control," said Donnabel, her voice high with excitement. "But then she let it go..."
"Let's cross here," Sad Fairy said.
"Why don't we have a car?" asked Jean.
"Too noticeable, and besides, they only work on roads." And to make her point, when they crossed the road, immediately all of them began to scale a huge cement wall like insects.
Jean hesitated, could she scale that wall?
"She can't climb this yet," Donnabel said, and like a leaping spider, she jumped from the wall and into the grass right in front of Jean. With one swoop, suddenly, Jean was airborne. It felt great for about 3 second, and then she hit about 20 branches, a few tree trunks, and fell, spine-first, onto an abandoned washing machine.
"Mother FUCKER!" screamed Jean as she rolled off the rusted appliance into the grass.
"That's more like it. I didn't know if she COULD swear..."
Donnabel grabbed Jean and sat her upright. "She's fine. The trees broke her fall.
"That was SO UNCOOL!!" screamed Jean into the crisp morning air.
"Oh, we're uncool. We should have left you back there to... no, left with the Shiante, back there. Made a nice hat for your fat HEAD!"
"Come on Sad Fairy," said Donnabel. "She's almost passed over. I am sure she's a little freaked. Why are you so mean to her?"
Even Harona nodded in agreement. You're still upset about the Half-breed, aren't you?
"Why don't you two just shut up?"
"I don't have to shut up, Sad Fairy." Donnabel said, standing up to look down on Sad Fairy's huge dark eyes. "You're not REALLY our boss, you know. What has gotten into you lately? You owe everyone here, package included, an apology for your immature rudeness."
Harona stood with Donnabel, and for a moment, it looked like they were going to fight. Then Sad Fairy backed down, and looked at Jean. "Sorry. Okay? Sorry." And with that she stomped off.
"Where is she going now?" asked Donnabel, picking up Jean with one strong hand, and dragging her with them.
All text copyright 2005 Grig Larson, all rights reserved. No reprinting without permission