The beginnings of an urban fantasy novel. I thought I would share the opening few pages with you. Let me know if you’d like to read more of the story in the comments below.
“You said left, I clearly heard you say left!” Cassie growled, the fog of her heavy breathing intermingling with mine in the frigid night air.
“I said left, I meant right obviously.” I replied sharply. The sound of our feet slapping harshly on the dark cobbles as we ran, ringing off the narrow, grimy walls of the alley. Yeah I should have said right, alleys are not the best place to find yourself when you’re being chased.
“Obviously. Did I ever mention I hate you, like a lot.” She spat back. I should mention here, this is regular banter for us. She doesn’t really hate me…I’m almost certain of it.
“I think you’ve mentioned it, but I don’t really listen when you talk so I can’t be sure.” I grinned back at her fiercely.
“Well just in case I don’t get a chance to tell you later. I really, truly hate you.” She puffed out the words with each step; as I said, I’m almost certain.
I turned my head to see the slight quirk of a familiar smile, the faintest tug of her lips revealing perfect little pearly white teeth, vivid, glittering glacial blue eyes wide with excitement. Yeah I’m certain.
The deep shadows of the inky night accentuated the angular planes of her cheekbones and jaw, pale skin, clammy and glistening with sweat under the unflattering orange street light, which began to fade as we sprinted away from the main road. I could almost see the blood pulsing under her supple, translucent, flushed skin. Eeep! I got a bit lost in thought there. We’d reached the end of the alley and I had to stop myself pretty sharpish before running headfirst into the dark bricks; greasy with algae and moss. We both turned to look back down the dim alley, backs to the wall metaphorically and literally. Fine rain drifted down on the light wind sticking to my eyelashes. I flashed Cassie my best confident smile.
“Is there something wrong with your face?” She chortled.
“This is my face, it’s a perfectly normal face. This is my confident in my abilities face, you just don’t know a good face when it’s staring you in the…face.” I reproached her.
“Eloquently spoken as always.” She replied.
“Yeah well…” I couldn’t really think of a decent comeback so I just kicked her in the shin.
Cassie responded with her, you really want to go there look; one slender dark eyebrow quirked up. Her short glossy black hair stylishly tugged in all directions, tipped in magenta and held into place with some sort of magical paste or gel or wishful thinking that people use for that kind of thing nowadays.
“Can we?” She sighed a little boredom implied in her tone, gesturing towards the alley.
“Yeah, yeah. Okay.” I replied in resignation.
She turned back to the alley, nodding. I kicked her in the shin again just cos. She just smiled that smile at me again. She really was beautiful in that aggressive, devil pixie, can kill you with her thumb sort of way, if you like that kind of thing. Cassie was utterly thrumming with life and excitement; she’s one of those people you know, always fizzling with energy and vitality. Fuck that shit, I’m a grumpy git and I love it.
“You know what?” I said “Just in case I don’t get a chance to say it later. I hate you too.” I returned her smile without meeting her eyes. I could tell she was going to make fun of me for being soppy, catching her mouth opening in my peripheral vision. “Shut up” I said snippily before she could ruin the moment, still smiling.
A deep rumble and a harsh snort tremored through the rain-slicked alley. Steamy breath rose up in the shadows side by side like two smokers. Luminous green, glowing eyes were clearly visible, in the dark; reflecting the light back at us like a cat, the deep basso of a heartbeat thudding audibly. This was no cat.
“So, I guess this is it then?” She sighed.
“I guess so.” I shook my head sadly.
The rumble grew louder followed by a thunderous snarl and grinding of teeth. If I wasn’t a tougher man it might have scared me silly, as it is it only scared me a lot, like I’m gonna let her see that though. A shaggy fur pelted paw padded heavily into a pool of light like someone dropped a sack of potatoes, but you know more menacing and deathy. Black smoke quickly swirled and writhed around the thick muscle of a leg, or and arm. I’m going with leg. The musty smell of wet animal thick, cloying and pungent, a deep growl rung out. Very foreboding.
We began to laugh, a pure fit of giggles, maybe even a giggle snort; don’t judge, sometimes it can’t be helped. There was a diffusion of tension, it was almost tangible, the rumbling stopped I think beasty felt it too, he was more used to a terrified reaction to his theatrics. We managed to compose ourselves, turning to face the ominous shadow. I took a strong step forward, my boot thudding on the wet uneven cobblestones. I adjusted my coat in a manner not unlike Derek Trotter and bared my teeth in a fierce grin. Cassie rolled her eyes.
“You just made the worst mistake of your miserable existence pal.” I spat at the shadow.
Maybe I imagined it, but I sensed the subtle cock of a head in that writhing black smog. Moving slowly but purposefully I tugged the chain from around my neck, letting the solid metallic badge slap down heavily against my chest, light glinting off its polished silver surface, ‘KP’ clearly visible. Lifting my head dramatically revealing my face into the light, giving my best smouldering, dark eyed stare, I opened my mouth and…
“Watcha gonna do, watcha gonna do when they come for you, bad boys, bad boys” Cassie sung mockingly. I turned to face her, glaring.
“You know I love a dramatic proclamation! It’s my favourite bit, and you always have to bloody spoil it!” I whined childishly. She just beamed back at me impishly.
“Watcha gonna do when they come for you?” She nodded down the alley casually, arms folded over her chest as padded paw beats slapped against the damp cobbles in a wet thumping rhythm heading straight for us. Great.
“Oh well done.” I sneered half-heartedly.
I knelt down and closed my eyes, placing my hands flat against the ground, feeling its notched, wet slippery surface, the solid old stone, eroded by years of acidic rain, carved by man and machine, reaching deeper and deeper until I felt the subtle hum of vibration, the resonance of energy in the stone itself. I grimaced and mumbled silently under my breath; Cassie tapped her foot impatiently next to me, I slapped it with irritation like a mosquito. The thudding grew louder, shaking the bricks around us, focusing and feeling until, ah, yes, there.
The stones began to shift beneath me; the ground squirmed and became molten and pliant. I opened my eyes focusing on the subtle shift in the shadows up ahead, the deep heartbeat still drumming in my ears, clenching my fist tightly with a vicious grin. Abruptly a high-pitched squeal filled the night air, you know the kind of noise if you’ve ever accidentally stood on a dogs tail? Muffled whimpers and the scrabbling of claws on stone soon followed. Swaggering over to the rocky, shifting clump sticking out of the ground, tightly encasing the beasty writhing in its shroud of dark fog.
“Karma’s a bitch, ain’t it?” I taunted the thing.
“You had to say it, didn’t you?” Cassie chided me.
I grumbled about never getting any appreciation for drama, taking the well-used piece of rough, green mirror from my pocket, trying to catch the light in it just right.
“Give it here.” Cassie slapped the mirror from my hand impatiently, directing a beam of light with ease onto the snarling rock encased terror, and just like that it was gone. The rocks began to settle into the earth with a satisfied deep crackling rumble, leaving no trace of disturbance as we trudged off down the street into the night. I raised my arms in the air, bouncing a little in victory; she slapped me hard across the chest. Ow!
We jumped the familiar rusting green metal fence of the park; birds began twittering in the trees as the dark of night shifted to the blueish grey hue of dawn. Stalking over the dewy grass toward the quaint duck pond lined with reeds and other planty type things. What I don’t know what they are! Plants okay?! Peering over the edge into the inky blackness, I bent down with a grunt of effort touching the surface of the painfully cold water causing small ripples to flow out from around my fingertip. Listening for the resonance.
I performed a couple of routine stretches, making a show of it, gesturing with my head for Cassie to follow suit, to which she replied with a eyeroll not unlike that of an indulgent mother, arms across her chest, waiting patiently.
Psyching myself up, cracking my knuckles, it never gets easy this bit.
“Oh come on, for gods sake!” Cassie shoved me out of the way impatiently with a firm shoulder barge and gracefully hopped out into the rippling black surface without a sound or splash.
“Home sweet home.” I sighed, closed my eyes, taking casual step into the dark abyss after her.