Before, my destination


Somewhere before my destination

before the point of no return

and way beyond the place which once resembled home

a couple hours away from cheap motel rented solace and sleepful oblivion

I found a diner on the edge of a forever sunset

The endangered neon sign called it the Mile Post

It had all the attractiveness of too much caked makeup and cheap menthol cigarettes

Even the cockroaches outside were busy getting ready for the midnight grease shift

I knew I’d be in good company soon

This was a spot where the dreams of travellers had come to rest

A sanctuary for endless fantasies filled with steamy drive in make out sessions

Hot california winds spinning pinwheels of dead highway sailors

Drenched in three hour heated coffee and stale sesame seed bun burgers

A Formica fiddlers green, worn down by the thousand tanned left arms of truckers

Ignoring the youthful transplanted tourists who got their first taste of objectivity

They shed their cloaks of ignorance for strange desserts in the desert

Laughing too loud to realize that the best conversation of their lives had just crossed their tongues

They consumed without tasting

I found a wobbly stool at the silver chromed counter, and asked for the blue plate special.

They were out of powdered gravy mix, but at least they knew what I was talking about.

Cheap paperback turning hands delivered a menu and surprisingly cool glass of water

She asked me where I was from.

I said, it’s more interesting to where I was going.

Towards something closer to yourself? Or further away? she asked genuinely interested

-That’s the beauty of found places like this, the more shallow of company, the deeper the conversation.

I winced, trying to stretch out the penanced thousand miles of vibration out of my spine

Rubbing the tunnels out of my eyes until the green and yellow neon blob monsters rewrote my cones

I drank the local water, inviting the rumor powered nightmares into my lower bowels.

The blue plate burned the back of my throat, too many heartfelt burned words stuck there

I promised that once I got the answers to Where I was Going, and Where I came from

I’d send her a postcard

With forgotten 50’s fonts telling her Wish You Weren’t Me but I Wish You Were Here

And maybe a Scratch and Win ticket from the Shambala Gift Shop and Information Emporium

Because mailed marketing promises are cheap

It’s a convenient commodity to ignore where you once came from

She smiled, the apple pie is on the house

I asked her what the view is like.

On the house, does it ever get quiet up there? Could you see the endless stream of lights, blurring together in endless firefly vectors?

She said it’s like peering into an experiment gone bad

Four generations of people looking through their TV shaped windows

They like that TV shape, it tells them bad calorie stories they can eat

They drive mechanical horse and carts consuming oil and gas, farting climate change

But they can’t be bothered to stop

They are too busy in their own heads

Looking for that next spot that reminds them of where they once were

Not really seeing the flowers that cling to the side of the road

But driving over them, and not going anywhere

The view my friend, is too real, that’s why I read cheap novels.

I have to know what the enemy is feeding the masses. Before I feed them.

-That’s the horror of trapped places like this, answering those questions that keep you up at 3AM

There was nothing else for me to say. I tipped my hat, I tipped the cashier, and then I tipped my nose to that spot on the horizon

-That’s the place, not even bottled medication or drink can stop the inevitability of yourself

This place moves you, allows and pushes you

The escape from the old and haunted with a bus ticket

Paid for by snapping those chains, and casting off the anchors of regret

The promise of a new place to excite and fatten my spiritual wallet

Somewhere in the orange glow of Ra’s embrace was where I had to be

The Road, she came with me, not that place inbetween places

But that familiar exciting scary monotonous movement that stretches out your soul

And she smiled knowing what I didn’t,

not where I was, not where I came from

But who I was going to be, when she was done with me

King City : Boom – Part Seven


“Stage one of the activation will be throwing these.” Boggart held out the two sugar cubes with dots on them. “This is as close as we can get to actual dice without going through years of enchantments.”

Warren looked to the dice that lay atop his overflowing paperwork. The two sugar cubes sat there. He looked up to Boggart and Slinger.

“You know it’s this weird shit that took me out of the game.” The graying speedster sat back in the tall chair. “I’ve got a business to run. And you want all my runners to roll these across intersections of King City?”

“Sir,” Slinger stood taller. Warren lifted an eyebrow at the title and smirked. “Your work would identify where the next explosion will take place.”

“That true, demon?”

“It is. Sir.” Boggart reported with a dry sense of tone. “With Rory being in a comatose state, it has broken the chain of events. Apparently each bomb was tied into the next. Master Hartlan has broken that chain, and we need to find where the next link points towards it.”

“You know my guys will have to okay them doing this. Some, are none too happy having powers as it is. Doing castings? I don’t know if they’d be up for it.” Warren moved some files out of the way, pulled up his keyboard, picked up the phone. “Janice, I need a weight, come to my office.”

In a blink, a bright white uniform was there, curvy and wasp waisted, “Yo.”

Warren took the two sugar cubes, “These.”

“Done.” She held out a post it note.

“Magic huh?” Warren rolled his head, stretched his arms out, then put his hands to the keyboard. There was a sound of bees in the air, then the printer begain to spit out. “Okay, that’s the number of deliveries and the cost.”

Boggart took the paperwork, lifted a spiney eyebrow, then passed the paper over to Spell Slinger.

“Yeah, the KCPD aren’t going to be happy about that. But at least the environmentalists are going to be okay with not using plastic dice.” Slinger handed it back to Warren. “Fax it over to them, address it to Goodstone.”

“Yeah, they aren’t, but I’m sure the taxpayers will be worse on them, than us.”

King City : Boom – Part Six


“When I said pick your team-“

“Consider it a lesson learned Goodstone.” Silver looked to the almost too perfect forest path. He adjusted his swords, the wazikashi and katana across his leather jacket. “We have to get to the edge of the twilight, and like you said… They don’t like cold steel.”

“Remind me again, why I’m here?” Billy chimed in, checking the arrows in the quiver again. His hands quickly checked the longbow. “Seriously, the standard Magii testing? I scored negative, even lower than you Silver.”

“You’re family to the Hartlan’s.” Tom spoke over his shoulder.

“And the Kennedy’s, but you don’t see me getting invited to dinner. ” Billy nodded ahead. “Something’s ahead.”

“I see that. Maybe if you didn’t do that article and put three more levels of red tape paperwork into my work process…” Goodstone waited for a moment, then adjusted his grip along the length of iron quarterstaff. “Check the rear.”

“If I didn’t do that article, I wouldn’t be reporting the truth.” Billy squinted a little. “Could be the wind, or a Pookah.”

Silver spun to the side, blade somehow already in his grip pointed to the path they just walked on. “Nothing but too dense forest, that isn’t the way we came.”

“It is, remember, this is Fae. Even the maps change.” Goodstone sighed a little, then rested the staff on the top of his boot.

“That some good detecting.” Billy smirked, then in an instant he had one arrow at the ready, nocked and ready to fly pointed towards the path ahead. “Fortunately my hunting skills are better. SHOW YOURSELVES!”

The sounds slid around them, too many voices slippery, from tree branches above, from a rock on the path below. The sounds dizzying. “You dare bring those… things. Into our home, to cause the Rot? This is an insult to-“

“Before you even begin, let it be known that we are only passing through your realm to the Dreamtime. The weapons are for our own protection as is to yours, the blood of the Hartlan walks with us to guide to the one called Rory Hartlan. He dreams and cannot wake.” Silver recited precisely, then looked up towards the brim of his porkpie hat, trying to remember if he forgot anything.

“That one’s blood, it contains the taint.” The voices floated in from the forest edge, seeming to concentrate around Goodstone.

“Yeah, blame that on my heritage, it means no insult to your kind. We’re only travelling through, we will defend ourselves if harmed or influenced.” Goodstone held the heavy quarterstaff above the ground, the air sharpened at the move.

Billy nodded, “Good one.”

“The archer is of the blood, but is not touched by the ancestor. We shall take him as tribute.”

“No you won’t, because if you look further, you will see that I know words. And you don’t want every human traipsing around in these places, if I spread word of the many entrances to this place.” Billy returned the arrow to the quiver. “Billboards, paper flyers, big neon signs flashing ‘OPEN FOR TOURISM’. Hungry humans looking for new food sources, scientists ready to open up whatever they can get their hands on, and even worse. Tourists.”

The forest seem to withdraw a moment.

“The toll must be paid. These are the ways of this place.”

“And we will earn it, not through trickery, permanent or temporary sacrifice.” Silver spoke looking to the forest.

“And the monsters that the Rory has fought do remain in his own dreaming. Near that place where he lies in the Dreamtime, is weak, to this place. The easier the path, the quicker we can stop anything that could come through.” Goodstone pointed out, “And the longer we bicker here, the better chance that something not of the realms of Earth or Fae could enter.”

“Know that this place will take. If not through this journey, but the next. You have been warned, Warrior, Hunter and Smithy. And you will return to these lands, the toll must be paid.” The whispering voices pulled away from the forest edge, and the light seemed to return all around them.

“Hunter Bill?” Tom smirked.

“Warrior Tom?”

“Shut up. We’re just lucky that those were the friendly Fae.” Goodstone took out a notepad and wrote down some details. “Which way?”

“If things keep going the way they should, we keep going forward, then we’re on our way to the edges of Fae. I have a feeling that they want Rory awake just as bad as we do. Or at least have him on guard. His own nightmares are as large a threat as our own bomber.”

Tales of King City : Boom – Part Five


“Master Hartlan, did not intentionally set off the bomb, but his own presence triggered it.” Boggart spoke as he drew on the whiteboard. “Travel through the shadow plane is quicker and removes quite a few of the perceptions of this world. It would be like putting on filters on your glasses, and having ten league boots. By this method of travelling, Rory would first ‘inquire’ or look ahead to where he needed to go.”

“This is how he managed to triangulate where the bomb was. Looking ahead and seeing what was extremely different. And in this case, what was extremely normal.”

The room of police, registered powers, officials, Magii watched the pair at the front of the room. Boggart held himself tall, all five feet, immaculate white suit. TC wore her standard t-shirt, leather jacket, jeans, but the exception of the red and blue mask of the Pendragon, her hair was tied back behind her head.

“One of the largest anomalies that occurred was that many of the Magii had a moment where they ‘were not themselves’.” TC held herself back from making finger quotes. “They all had one common theme, young boy at play. On the coastline, with beings that seemed benevolent and made of light.”

Many heads in the room nodded.

“This is not a time bomb we are looking for. We are looking for a bomb made of time itself.” TC noted out, as she pointed out to the board. “Memories and moments in time are the trip wire. Due to the chaotic nature of Rory’s energy, we were given some grace for him to contain the blast.”

One of the Magii held his hands up, “Between there and here, is only the now.”

“There has been growth though.” Another Magii interjected.

“Ahem, this is not the venue for that discussion. But it does give us insight as to who has been planting these bombs.” Boggart said in crisp fashion, and slid across the whiteboard. “Our current profile is such. Lady, in her late thirties to early sixties. Never married, quite set in her ways. Biologically unable to give birth, our departments have permission to search through fertility records. Telepathic and Chrono power enabled, but only subconsciously. Never registered, and is quite possibly still a citizen. On the Magii scale, she very well could be near deity level power with the ability to rewrite time. Or even worse, your own memories.”

Goodstone stepped forward, “So, the bomber may not know she is even doing it.”

“Indeed. I still maintain that this the act of a man, but I have been frequently wrong Detective.” Boggart smiled through the British accent.

“But there have been no new threats, correct?” Tom Silver walked into the briefing room, green slime dripped off his leather jacket, there appeared to be some bits of tentacles still clutched to his arm and leg. “No one else got the alert on the big nasty in the-”

Tom looked around, “Guess not. That one’s on me. Literally. So why no new threats? No letters? What stopped?”

Slinger, raised herself up as tall as she could, “At this time, we have no plausible theories.”

“Besides Hartlan becoming the bomb itself, and needs to explode, in order to get the next one going… right? It’s quite possible that it’s a chain reaction. That is what time is about.” Tom took a towel gratefully from someone and wiped his face off. “Send the janitors a box of doughnuts would you? Just as bad job cleaning up after the giant monsters as it is slaying them.”

Goodstone looked to the swordsman. “Thanks Tom. Slinger, Boggart. Thank you for the debriefing. We’ll keep you all posted on this as developments occur. Good hunting everyone.”

The majority of the room left, until Goodstone looked to the four faces. Slinger, emotionless behind the Pendragon mask. Boggart, staring off into space, his clawed finger tips stroking through the spines on his chin. Tom Silver, still wiping himself off as best as he could, an array of edged weaponry on the tables laid out.

“Explode or defuse?”

“Defuse.” Boggart spoke.

“Explode.” Tom said. “Seems quite a regular occurrence that you all die once or twice every four of five years. Or just wait till the human race ends, then wait for a way to defuse him properly. The cryogenics thing, you know?”

“Slinger?”

“I don’t know. We have to at least reach Rory, tell him what we are doing. The last thing we need is a vengeful undead magii not knowing why his life ended.”

Boggart lifted his head, “Dreamwalk. We should be able to reach him in the coma there. I am not allowed to such methods, being of my kind. We could also ask the fae folk for a favor.”

Silver laughed, “You go right ahead my spiney buddy. I’m not getting involved with those dandelion eaters. I’d rather go try my hand at working for city hall.”

Goodstone pulled out his comm pad, started typing in and figuring out the numbers. “Two teams, we pull Rory out to the Lagrange station, give the engineers one week to contain the explosion. Team one, goes dreamwalk or whatever, contact Rory. Team two, let’s see if we can’t duplicate the Hartlan bomb. Maybe there was another one there in town.”

“Team One, Silver, pick your team. I do recall the fairy folk do not like cold iron. Treat them with respect. Team Two, Slinger and Boggart, pick the rest of your team.” Goodstone pointed out to them. “I’m going to get the budget approved.”

Tales of King City : Boom – Part Four


T.C. Calhoun, teen hero, shopper extraordinaire, sometimes blonde, stood by the bedside of Rory Hartlan. She frowned, and removed the Pendragon Mask. She muttered an incantation, looked to the mask, sighed, then enunciated the incantation. The mask shrunk and she attached it to the lapel of her leather jacket.

“What did he say?” A deep grumbling voice spoke behind her. TC knew not to jump when her mentor had done this. He had a habit of moving very silently.

“To call his therapist.”

“How did he set the bomb off?”

“Dice. Like he was playing craps. Sensei, he took the bomb inside of himself.”

“Clever. To take the form of another, like water. It changes when you put it into another form.”

TC grinned, “With Rory, more like whiskey.”

“Ahem.”

TC waved a hand across her face, the small spell placed a glamour, replacing her elfin features to the red and blue face mask of the Pendragon.

“Detective Goodstone.” Sensei spoke in acknowledgement. Small hands stroked the wiry beard. “You come with bad news.”

“Mayor says we will have to move him out of the city. Some of the environmental groups say he should be sent out to the Wild Zone or the Dump. Effectively he is no longer a registered power. Legally, Hartlan is a bomb.”

“Not unless he explodes.” TC spoke quietly. “What is a bomb if it doesn’t explode? That’s what he said when one of the other Magii challenged him.”

Goodstone blinked, “Just parts.”

“And that is what is stopping you from finding them in time. You are looking for a bomb. That does not exist.” Sensei spoke, then grunted as he sat down in the bedside chair. “You must think larger Detective.”

“Parts. That makes sense.” Goodstone nodded, then walked over to the bed. “Slinger, you are up to finding the next one.”

“What? Totally me? I’m not a terrorist hunter.” She exclaimed in perfect teenage tone. “Gimme a giant monster or zombie kung-fu clan any day. I can’t do this!”

Goodstone looked at her deadpan, “I can talk to people, see how this will take off more than half of the ‘community service’ hours that you owe from destruction of property. The other registered Magii are spooked on this, they aren’t saying anything on this.”

“The Hartlan has scared them again. He appears to be a drunk. He appears to be a scoundrel. A base Magii with nothing more than a bag full of tricks. But all along. They only know that his influence and clerverness, not his power, is greater than anyone can realize.” Sensei looked to the bed. “When the Magii withdraw, they know that greater trials lay ahead, some that cannot handle that burden.”

“Okay, like totally Fate did not have to do with it. I didn’t get my wonky sense. I can help, like when you need someone to punch the bitch in the face.” TC said, nodding emphatically. Her pixie cut hair flopping around.

Sensei and Goodstone looked at her, “Bitch?”

“Yeah, as in female dog. You think a guy would be blowing up a fertility clinic? A-Kay-A as a sperm bank? That’s the closest and largest department to where the bomb was. Odds are in favor it’s a woman.”

Goodstone brought up his communicator, “Vegas, the bomber is female. What are we looking at?”

“That improves the odds for us. But expands out the territory.” Goodstone’s communicator replied back.

“Slinger, you shall travel to the sanctum of the Goddess. Three labours you will perform, there you will converse and gain insight.” Sensei nodded in agreement to his own words. “After you finish cleaning the shop, make soup and finish your lessons.”

“Sensei…I can’t-”

“You will.” Sensei barked. “There is much more to your potential than punching and kicking. You have yet to master that which will control you.”

“And the KCPD would appreciate the help on this too.” Goodstone put the hat back onto his head. “Sir, Slinger. We’ll have him transferred out within the hour. Any information, pass it back.”

The Detective left the room, and TC let the glamour slip from her face.

“Really Sensei? You are volunteering me to do this?”

“Those who run from challenges are not warriors. The city has brought us this peril. And you were the closest to Hartlan when he fell. So tell me Student, shall you take the cowardly way out? Forsake your bloodline and the weapons you have won by not only combat, but birthright?” Sensei stood up. “I want a juice box.”

“We’ll stop by the eatery before we head back to the shop.” TC steadied the old man, he took her elbow to settle himself. “You can buy me a muffin.”

“Tell me Student, what was it like near the bomb?”

TC placed the Pendragon mask onto her face. “It was, in flux. Parts of different worlds were there. I tasted something, it was meaty and bloody. With ketchup. I liked it, even though it wasn’t my mouth. It was so familiar, yet-”

“Yes, yes, you do not eat meat.”

“Not for like a dozen years now. I think it was a hamburger.” TC turned to look to Sensei. “And just for a moment, I was a small boy.”

Sensei stopped the pair of them, looked to Slinger, then back to the hallway. “You experienced something that was not you. But as you did have it, it became you. So who was it that time and experince originally belong?”

“Your grammar is falling apart.”

“You are one to talk Student. Let us get the monorail, I must feel the city from above.”

“Sh-yeah, you are just hoping some of the gangs’ll be there. So you can put them in their place. Which is a phrase I’ve never understood, isn’t their place where they are currently standing?”

“Shh! Less talking, more walking. Juice box is essential for my chi.”

*******

TC stood on the beachline, drawing in the sand with the end of her pike. She clutched and fumbled at the toga, then sighing, tied it tighter. She was grateful that it was a calm evening patrol and the Captain would not be as judgemental at the state of her dress. She being supplicant to the labours of the Goddess, had it’s few advantages.

Time being the most important. Actual time passing back in King City, about 20 minutes.

On the island? One week. It gave her time to go through the labours, time to think things over.

She kept drawing out the structure and shape of the city, the locations that she memorized. Seeing if there was a common pattern, a picture, a route or direction from the explosions.

But there wasn’t.

“Okay TC, you really need to get it together here. Outside view, what would Rory do?” She muttered to herself. “Get drunk, say something witty and insightful, save the day, drink whiskey, dance with fairies, and repeat.”

“Supplicant.” Another patrol approached and TC sighed, she obviously took too long and was behind in her area coverage. Looking back down the beach at the drawings in the sand, some where already being erased from the incoming tide.

“Captains.” TC nodded then looked guiltily to the drawing.

“There are things on your mind. Which distract you from your duties. The green one that fell. This man, of the Heartland protectors-”

The idea snapped in TC’s mind. Protectors. Containing the blast.

“Fairies.” She planted the pike into the sand. “I’m not a little boy.”

The Captains looked to each other, concerned. They knew that some of the Outer Worlds had peculiar ways.

“That was Rory. As a child. Right before he arrived, I was … him. As a boy, playing on the coastline. That smell of sea…” TC looked to them. “Permission to complete the challenge at a later date, I must return to the City. I figured out what the parts of the bomb are. And I can save the Heartland protector.”

The Captains nodded. TC ran off sprinting. Then stopped, ran back to the Captains, saluted, grabbed the pike and then headed to the columned house atop the cliff.

Tales of King City : Boom – Part Three


“Two hours to go and the city could blow up.” Goodstone spoke in Rory’s ear.

“Liar.”

“Okay. Will give you that. But there is going to be something happening downtown.”

“Who tol’ ye tha’?” Rory slipped into a shadow, feeling his way through, emerging a block away. The smell of grease and old Chinese food filled the alleyway.

“I’ve got a hunch.”

Rory hesitated again. “A hunch? You?”

“Pattern recognition, subconscious instinct, or a hunch. Take your pick. How is the search going?”

Rory slipped into the shadows again, he felt the coolness lick across his sunburned skin and shifted between the spaces. “Poorly. I’m goin’ on a half rumor. From someone who has way too many information streams. Across an impossible city. Lookin’ fer people tha’ are actin’ funny.”

“Point taken. Anything beyond the usual patterns?”

“Nay lad, these folk know when ta run fer cover. Practically e’eryone on tha streets has tha’ look. They know whut ta do when the flyin’ saucers start ta fly down their street.” Rory noted, yawned. He incanted again, feeling the sigils and power centers tattooed on his body tingle a little.

That was something. Somewhere between here and way over there.

“Got a bite.” Rory tapped on the seashell twice. “Slinger! Time fer a quick lesson!”

“Oh my god Rory, you could not- pick- a- worse-time!” The young womans voice carried over the aetherial current.

“Oh ah kin. Part o’ downtown is ’bout ta blow up. Quit foolin’ round wit tha’ bamboo and get yer arse down here.” Rory heard some swearing in Korean. “An’ tell yer Master tha’ ‘e still owes me a chess game.”

More swearing in Korean.

“Like, I’m totally on my way. BEE -ARR-TEE!”

Rory sighed, then tried another direction along the shadow paths. He gently probed out in several directions, the emerald energy flowing off the spell warped and was pulled back into the leylines.

“Hartlan!” Another voice on the line.

“An’ people wonder why ah dinna ha’e a cell phone. Whut ye want Goodstone?”

“Where is it?”

“In the off quoted words o’ Pacino. Ah’m workin’ ‘ere!” Rory tried further to the north. Nothing. Small tingles in another direction. “Gettin’ close. Right then, all points! Hospital downtown, research center north wing, or there ’bout. An’ ‘ere’s the really important part when yer start ta look fer the bomb.

“Look fer somethin’ extremely normal. Somethin’ ye’d nay look at twice. Tha’ perspective change twill help ye find it. Feels hot on the aether, power magnet o’ some sort.” Rory waited for confirmation along the aetherial communication strands. Then after a half-dozen confirmations, he snapped off the aetherial link, then pushed through the shadow paths.

He pushed through several layers getting faster as he pushed through the cloudy fog. The outer world paled. There were smaller entities here. Lost souls trapped beneath the layers. Rory made a mental note, would be good for Slinger to see these. Potential fates for those who tread places who are not trained.

Getting closer, he was pulled now. Closer to the source of the disturbance. The place was active with energy. Something he couldn’t identify. It was if he stepped into another persons home, made by the same architect. Hauntingly familiar.

“Master Hartlan.” The cool timbred voice rolled through the shadow path as he emerged. Looking over, he looked to the sharp lines of the white armani suit. The impossibly young face, and the dark shine of the demons exoskeleton, the dark thin spines where hair should be were neatly pointed back. The thick rimmed sunglasses were the same darkness of it’s hide.

“Master Boggart, ‘grats again on yer promotion. Full Magi, way ta go fer breakin’ stereotypes.” Rory patted the demon on the shoulder.

“Indeed Sir. The disturbance seems to be coming from the north. In the courtyard. It is… disturbing on a personal level.” The demon stroked a hand over the spines on his head in a surprisingly human manner.

“Dinna be ‘shamed Boggy. Ah got the same feelin’ as well.” Rory looked to the courtyard. “Evacuation Engine?”

“Already engaged, and testing is clear. No foreign bodies. No traps and no risk for moving the population.” The slightly crisp british tones crawled into the practiced tongue of the dark demon. “Shall we mass evacuate?”

“Nay, somethin’ new. Somethin’ the bomber could na’ ever predict. Which is most likely why they brought me in.” Rory smiled then tapped the shell in his ear. “All units, prepare for floor by floor evacuation. Give tha City Emergency Care Team somethin’ ta worry about. Critical care an’ birthin’ ward first. Then down tha’ list. Highest priority ta’ lowest.”

“Hartlan! There’s a group coming-”

Rory took a step forward approaching the hospital. His canvas shoe felt the curb and suddenly-

Roar of the waves. Tall yellowed grass, sunbleached growing out from between the craggy rocks, sky sunshine yellow, the air is cool with fall.

And bouncing.

There is nothing but fun and light and his new friends. They have strange long names, lilting like his Nana’s singing. She was born in their lands. But they know to protect him. Even though their feet don’t quite touch the ground. He feels safe there, and there is nothing but play.

He looks down and sees the orange logo on the rubber boots. Rory loves the way they sound when his feet squish down, and that funny sound, sometimes it’s like farting. Which is sooo funny! The leaves are crunchy underneath too.

Then he steps again towards the edge of the coast, something is wrong with the angle. He should be able to see the shore from here, if it weren’t for the-

“Blister!” Rory shouted, stepping onto the sidewalk. Sirens surrounded him, emergency vehicles were running left and right. He looked to the other magii in the street. They seemed as puzzled and as he was. “Wait, where- I was just-”

“I’m not a boy!” The blonde haired young woman grabbed the lapels of his leather jacket, shouting in his face. “Rory?”

“Slinger?”

“What in all of Retail was that?” She whipped around, looking for the source. “That was- What? I was a little boy!”

Rory closed his eyes for a moment and threw a protective spell around the two of them. Feeling the warm air blow around, the faint smell of green hills. He focused then began to study the area.

The Emergency Team was moving in slow motion, small wakes of deliberate movement echoed off their angles. There, that one was sprinting towards the stretcher. This one was waving down the helicopter. A third completing a mass teleportation.

Pedestrians caught up in the wake, tumbled and spun towards the street. Vehicles moved further away from the hospital. Light beacon spun around from atop the ambulance.

Chaos.

Hartlan smiled, then he began looking to the wakes and eddies that people were leaving behind. That was want the bomber wanted, and the bomber wanted it concentrated right over….

“There!” Rory yelled over the din. “Source located! Mass Evac! Priority Override Hartlan Seven!”

The tall towers downtown began to hum, and the masses of civillians and vehicles were teleported out of the area. The remaining half-dozen magii blinked and began their chanting, concentrating on the area that Rory had pointed to.

“I’ve got nothing.” A grey-scaled man reported, his transistor radio voice crackled. He patted down his pockets, then pulled out a small grey box with a couple of brass dials. “It was there. I know it was. For a moment, perspective wasn’t here or from me-”

“Anyone else feel like they were going nuts?”

“I’m not a little boy.” Slinger muttered as she swirled her hands, light trailed from them. She watched the pull of the energy towards where Rory was walking.

“Tis feeds off o’ chaos.” Rory patted his breast pocket and then pulled out a set of dice. Grinning he pointed to the most ordinary rock that anyone could have overlooked.

The other Magii stepped back and began their own transportation.

“Hartlan, if you set it off-” A woman, clad only in furs and leaves, barked at him, pointing a mossy club.

“Whut? If it doesn’t explode, is it a bomb? Whut is it then?”

The other Magii were silent.

“Slinger. Find the next one. Feed me cat tomorrow. Be careful, she’s a right furious pussy.” Rory began shaking the dice in his hand. “Get out all o’ ye.”

“Rory. Master said-”

“Ah got this. C’mon now. Papa needs a new pair o-” The dice flew through the air towards the concentration, his own spell wrapping around the random spinning.

The other Magii fled. Some through the air, others into cloud, one saluted him as he strolled away.

‘Heh, cool guys dinna look ba

******

The burst of light slid under every door frame. It reflected off of every surface for a nano second. The satellites, once thought to be dormant, found the pattern of a nuclear blast but did not move, as it was only half the profile. Every person and entity stopped for a moment and wondered what it was. Others began moving towards the source of the light. Shadows once malevolent paused, and sighed at the small respite.

The fog blew down the streets, pushing down and out, a twenty-foot tall wall of evaporation.

They said months afterwards that the place still had the smell of a coastline.

Slinger rushed back to the site. There was one small form there, horribly crumpled. She whipped back her head, hair sticking only to wet cheeks.

“Rory you stupid…” She said then landed softly next to the red-haired lump.

She held her breath looking to the man. The black leather jacket was in tatters, charms and trinkets spilling onto the pavement. The green t-shirt somehow still intact. Those stupid jeans that he got in Japan, black with the long eldritch swirls in neon green.

She reached down and choking back a cry, felt his neck. Then confused, trying another spot.

“No, no, no..”

The mass beneath her finger jumped, and coughed.

“Oh tha’ suck royal teat.” Rory coughed again hoarsely. He thought the words were coming out of his mouth, but the coughing interrupted him. Rolling over to his hands and knees he looked down. The dice were there. Snake eyes.

“Hartlan. Look at me.” Slinger stood back. Her defensive spells automatically coming to her fists. The Pendragon Mask wrapped around her face. She shifted back, ready to attack.

‘Smart girl.’ Rory thought as he looked up.

Solid white beams of light emerged from beneath his eyelids.

That light, that energy was coming from-

“Call me therapist-” Rory said quickly then fell to the pavement.

Tales of King City : Boom – Part 2


There was a lump at the end of the bar.

A flash of red and blonde hair, black leather jacket, and impossible black and swirled green neon designs on jeans that could only come from Japan. Next to the lump was an empty pint glass and a fedora that held various small bills of money, trinkets, and the remains of a broken magical hockey stick.

The lump twitched, stirred, slid off the barstool, rummaged through his pants pockets and brought out an iridescent pearl shell. He placed it into his ear.

“Hartlan, this better be good.”

“It’s Vegas, I have a job for you.”

“I dinna need the business lass. Besides I got yer game figured out. Tis na interesting.” The mishmash of Newfoundland, Scottish and Irish accents blended together.

“I’m in a bit of a bind here.”

“You dinna realize tha meanin’ lass.” Rory sat back down on the bar stool, looked to his upturned hat, found a crumpled twenty and placed it on the bar. A pint and a sandwich appeared.

“I need your help Hartlan.”

“Work alongside ye? Wit whose dice? Got me own. Loaded them meself. Nay thanks Vegas. But ye get points fer contactin’ me like this. Nice effort, ah’ll be in touch if’n Manchester takes on-”

“I- I- for a favor.”

Hartlan stopped the pint from reaching his mouth. The bar turned and looked at this event.

“From yer hesitation lass, ye do know the meanin’ o’ that word in my world. An’ ye kinna even begin ta calculate tha’ odds on how things will change fer ye once I call in tha’ favor. Tha’ serious?”

“Lives are on the line Hartlan. And I do have the grimoire on the numbers to calculate the odds.” Vegas stated plainly. “As a bonus, I’ll give you unlimited access to my library. Just because it’s Tuesday.”

Hartlan put a finger to the shell and mouthed the word, ‘Tuesday?’

The bartender chuckled and nodded.

“Right then, I’ll be right o’er. Put tha’ kettle on.”

“You’ve got 4 hours till it happens again.”

Rory plucked the shell out of his ear, placed it into his pocket. Then sorted the contents of his hat into various pockets. He began incanting, readying the travelling charms, then heard from the bartender.

“Take that outside Canuck.”

“Sorry. Force o’ habit.”

Tales of King City : Boom


“Would you look at that. There is a code for spontaneous entropic mass evaporation and/or intropic mass implosion.” Detective Goodstone blinked then marked the code down on a sticky note.

Detective Ferrero chuckled as he looked up from his underwood typewriter. “Seriously, you didn’t know that one?”

“The code for ‘It just blew up’? Or ‘It just disappeared’?” Goodstone pulled a flat mass of etched brass from the inside of his coat pocket. “Thankfully I did not. In this town, you’d think that would be one of them.”

“It just blew up?” A cute elfin smile leaned over into the aisle. Goodstone recognized the tone of her voice. This week, her hair was aquamarine.

“Vegas. Yeah, It just blew up. This time, the previous times it disappeared. A whole warehouse back on Tuesday.”

She blinked twice, “Wait, then there were two other places late last week. Had info trickle down my network. One was a sub-division that was new outside of town…”

“That’s the one. What do you know?”

She held up her hands, and the shiny handcuffs. “I know that this is an injust-”

“Three hundred and fourty four separate traffic violations, six ignored court summons and I believe one bail violated.” Detective Fererro recalled back. “Hence why I’ve got another 3 hours of paperwork before you can actually sign something.”

“My lawyer will clear this up. Judge Castle is back-”

“In Nantucket.” Goodstone interrupted her. “He’s kicking off a speaking tour for the Judicial system. What it’s like to Judge in a city with Gods/Aliens/Super Villains and still maintain an active sex life in your sixties.”

Vegas blinked at the new information, holding up the handcuffs. “Well, I didn’t know that. I’m a little cut off from my network.”

Ferrerro leaned over and looked to Goodstone. “It’s not going to help her.”

“Not this time.”

“Come on guys. Cut me a break.”

Ferrero looked to her, slid his fedora back a little, and then steepled his hands, pursing his lips. “I can’t do a thing. As the arresting officer.”

“Goodstone, buddy. Help me out here.”

“Well, right now an additional charge of withholding information on an active investigation is pending. But I can give Judge Rogers a good word on how cooperative you were at your hearing. Say Fererro, doesn’t he volunteer time to the Orphans of Another World?”

“I heard that.”

“Yeah, it would be really good if a benefactor would just drop a big donation into their lap. Hypothetically the money could come from… I don’t know. Maybe from proceeds of quasi-legal gambling on sports events. I’m quite sure that I could mention it to Judge Rogers.” Goodstone leaned back in his own chair, put his feet up on his desk, placing his hands across his chest. “Oh well, nice thought. All hypothetical too. I’ve got blowing up buildings with no trace, and you’ve got two hundred and ninety seven forms to get through.”

Vegas looked between the two detectives, in disgust, in amazement, and finally in resignation. “Haven’t you heard of photocopiers?”

“Sorry Vegas, technology barrier. It fritzes out when I come close to it. It’s as close as I’ve ever got to being an actual registered Power.” Ferrero pulled out another sheet of carbon paper. “But you know what that’s like.”

“Killing me here.” Vegas muttered under her breath. “Okay, I’ll do it.”

“Get me two solid leads in the next 24 hours, make that donation, and I’ll see what Judge Rogers can do for reducing the number of traffic violations.” Goodstone ticked off the items on his fingers.

“This is discrimination. My insights are Registerable.”

“And denied every time Vegas. You are a citizen.” Fererro continued to type on the typewriter. “With a lot of parking tickets. It would just be cheaper for you to buy a pass. Or take the monorail.”

“Goodstone…”

“Twenty four hours, you are deputized and report to me. No betting network, you work on this. Work on it. Call in favors, make new offers, get witness reports I don’t have. The second I see action on the Vegas network concerning even a prediction on what the kiddy’s soccer game is doing, and I swear…” Goodstone stood up, pulled out his keys and walked over to Fererro’s desk. “You won’t be able to make a bet, play a game of odds, on this planet again.”

“So serious?”

“Letter arrived just before you plopped into that chair. Next time, the city will have casualties. City block in size.”

Vegas blinked and then held her hands up, “Hurry.”

Goodstone scanned her ident card, signed the pad, then unlocked the cuffs. She got up and ran from the desk.

Fererro watched her run away. “Thanks, that was going to kill me if she didn’t take that bait. You’ve been taking bastard lessons, haven’t you?”

“Yep. Can’t believe she bought into that.”

“Judge Castle? Or the letter?”

“Both.”

“One of them I lied to her.” Goodstone looked to Ferrero. “Keep processing those forms. And if you’ve heard anything from the Golden network, let me know.”

“Wait. Castle goes on his tour next month-”

Goodstone held up an envelope. “Yeah.”

“Expletive.” Ferrerro picked up the rotary phone. “Exchange Four Fourty Three, get me the Golden network. Any of the crew missing or received new challenges, let us know. We’ve got buildings blowing up and lives are on the line.”

Goodstone looked to the bundle of brass that unfolded, seemingly random chopstick form over chopstick form until gears emerged. The small humanoid robot shuddered into form, then crawled up the Detectives arm. The warm brass form tapped twice on the man’s shoulder.

There, there.

“Yeah, wish both were lies. Okay Gears, let’s hit the street.”

These Ghosts


On that fleeting edge of dream and awake,
she’s there.
Sometimes I remember how the bed smelled like her
the next morning.
I try not to think of it-
Hair on pillow, breath on the back of my neck,
her laugh, play, the joyful abandon,
each one of her being
-these ghosts-
of fleeting moments.

Flash Fiction : Tales of King City – Graveyards


“So what happens when you visit the graveyard of forgotten heroes?” John Elden asked to the sunshine, the chasing monarch butterflies, the quiet river nearby, and his travelling companion.

Edwina, turned her head, one green eye and one yellow backlight cybernetic implant studied him. “What do you mean forgotten? And heroes? We come here so I can get some rest from that noise that’s out there.”

“You’ve been more cynical since Cincinnati.”

The pair strolled amongst the gravestones and markers.

“No, just more up front.” She placed a hand on a chest high marker. “Fletcher? Wasn’t that an occupation name?”

“Yes, and the husband was much older than the wife.” John rubbed down the marker. “Thirteen years, wait how old…”

“He was seventy, she was fifty-seven. He died 3 months after she did. Born… in that century and that old? That’s really defying the odds.”

“Yes, and that quote, old biblical hymn. Till the day break and the shadows flee away. I’ve heard that someplace else.”

Edwina laughed, “It’s surprising how much you automatically filter out the ambient fiction that is on the wide-cast. You should be going in for a sub-conscious cleaning every month with the amount of travelling we do.”

“Yeah, and when was the last time you went in for a tune-up? Hence why our visits to these places are becoming more frequent. Why aren’t we moving from this spot?” John asked, looking at the trees around them. The smells were foreign. Were these endangered plants the same two centuries ago?

“It’s literally a dead zone. Something with the harmonics and the lack of electrical fields. Doesn’t interfere with my implants. I can feel where I end, and the tech begins.” Edwina patted the grave marker. “Wait, what about heroes?”

“Somewhere, in my fleshy memory bank. The Fletchers, came from some money, not too much though. Back in the day where they had to keep their Talents hidden-”

“Why is that?”

“They burned the ones even with a little bit of access to the global sub-consciousness. Made impossible trials of death by water, by fire, even bludgeoning of stones. So there was a time when these Talents weren’t even recognized as such. The aberrant, the ones who wouldn’t fit into society. Witches, mutants, non-conformists.” John studied the marker. “And this is King City. One of the most widely accepted locations on the planet for such. Most of the world tries to forget that there are Gods and Giants and Aliens and Living Poetry that walk amongst us. Send it all here in one spot.”

“There are no Heroes anymore John. Just Talents that have been mass marketed. The average housewife can now get her own heat resistance factor just by paying three easy payments. No more burning hands when cooking.” Edwina moved off to another marker, her left leg dragging a little. She thumped her thigh with a clenched fist. “Hurts so good.”

“Well there were Heroes back then. Fought the good fight, made this city their home, and found ways to protect it. All under the cover of darkness and secrecy.” John felt a wave of dizziness flow over him. He gripped the marker for a moment, feeling warmth flow down his spine. “Whoa, okay, so I guess the ambient wide-casts have been a little too much lately.”

“Why do you think I’m going to get the Faraday cage woven into my cranial space?”

“To stop those pesky bug-eyed monsters from space? Because they are reading your thoughts?”

“To stop the magnetic and electrical marketing fields from having effect on me.” She sighed and then tapped three times on her cybernetic eye. “Stupid thing is, I’m putting more technology into me to make me more human. To stop the Corporations that be. I make my own decisions. I am my own person without sponsorship. And then I have to come to places like this, to remind my own flesh. To give that razors edge of tech a chance to settle down and not connect with the biological.”

The two of them turned, a man in a black suit carrying a briefcase walked up to them.

“The estate of Fletcher recognizes John Elden and Ed-”

“Don’t say it, professional handle please.”

“Also known as Ruby RUR Security. The estate would like to thank you for accepting the gifted heritage-”

“What?” John looked to Edwina, then to the stranger. “Oh you bitches. You did this on purpose. That’s another reason why we-”

“It had to happen John. You have no worries and no spot on the horizon to shoot for. You didn’t seek out any destiny, so it chose you. I’m immune to these things. My own mono-filament myth has been discovered. It was about time you did. ” Edwina smiled and then walked up to the man, “Papers? I’d like to scan for my friend here.”

John looked back to the marker, remembering the foreign smell. Activation pheromones from the local fauna, triggering response back through the body. The grave marker itself probably had a genetic compatibility matrix involved. And that quote… Till the day break. They were fighting the forces of darkness.

It was a hell of a way to lose your Talent cherry.

“What am I going to do with this Talent?”

“I apologize Sir, but in this case, the Talent does require training. We have taken steps to protect those within your genetic heritage and social relationships. They will not be used as leverage they could possibly impose or threaten you with.”

“This is stupid. I have a date tonight.”

“And afterwards, the transport will take you to India, the transit to Shambala is ready. There you are to begin your training.” The man in black spoke and stood with his hands behind his back.

“Don’t blame me for this John. We can actually blame the western civilization for putting up the barriers between good and evil. Light and dark. The original nomadic tribes of this place didn’t have words to do this. They had love and fear. That’s it. Only until the mass religions starting imposing their mental patterns into the lands, then all of this good and evil business reared it’s black and white dual faced head. What’s immoral… oooh, therefore it’s bad. Who’s morals again?” Edwina finished scanning the last page. “It’s legit.”

“And the madam, is also invited for clearance with her association to the newly selected Guardian.”

“Guardian?” John winced, rubbed his tanned hands into the corners of his eyes. “Sounds so generic.”

“Trust me Sir, the role is bigger than the title.”

John glared at Edwina. “Why couldn’t we have done this in Las Vegas?”

“Werewolves.”

“Right. Forgot about that.”

“Sir, the airship awaits.”

“Airship?” Edwina smiled.

“How much is the role and the estate and the-”

“Sir, the legacy has been waiting for two hundred years and faithfully maintained for over twelve generations, prior to the world bank system, and individual bank system. The Guardian is as how you say these days, monetarily endowed. Or stinking rich.”

“I will have enough time to recover and enjoy the good life?”

“Indeed Sir.”

John looked to the marker, pulled out his wallet, looked to the tattered identification cards. “I like the sound of John Fletcher. Ed, let’s go India, get training, and get you that Faraday implant. And some new shoes.”