There are some situations and language you might not like in this story. I rate it ‘R’
The Bloodhills Cemetery was very quiet, very still on this rainy day.It was late night, three hours until dawn. A dark, lean, shadowy figure made its way across the graveyard, unnoticed by even the owls perched on the branches of the trees. It made its way silently to where a small,nondescript marble headstone stood guard over an empty grave. It brushed the dirt away and stared at the lettering on the stone:
“In Loving Memory Of Dear Friend
Jacob M. Clawson
3239 – 3265
I will always be with you.”
A tiny, bloody teardrop splashed down onto the letter, briefly marring the word “you.” The figure hastily wiped it away. Even though when the sun rose, the blood would burn away, he couldn’t chance anything.
So long ago it had all happened. It was now 4790, over a hundred years passing since this tomb had been constructed in his name. And yet he could remember his friends, if he closed his eyes long enough.
He suddenly turned from the grave and made his way towards another part of the graveyard. The part of the now-famous Briggs-Furlong clan.
He went to the famous first couple of the clan: Chance Furlong and Callico Briggs, called Callie by her close friends and many business associates.
For a moment, he knew an indescribable anger. At his maker, at himself, at the two that now lay in the earth, dead, their bodies undoubtedly already rotted away to nothingness.
He should be here too! He shouldn’t be standing here, this unnatural, strange thing, he too should be lying in the earth.
The bitterness and anger slowly faded into a sort of quiet numb despair. They were gone. Their children’s children’s children and so on were buried here as well.
He studied his best friend’s tomb. In those last moments of life–with his wife beside him, dying as well, breath coming in tiny, heaving gasps–did he remember his friend, the Jake that he had known? Did he remember the old days of flying high in the jet, winning the admiration of nearly everybody in the city? Did he remember that Jake? Or the Jacob that had come many nights after his initiation into this world? The evil demon thing that looked so much like his old partner and friend?
Finally, he felt the warning tugs that signalled dawn was on its way.He walked away, sadly, slowly away from the two graves. He had attended their funeral. A midnight funeral that Chance had insisted on. Jake knew, he had been there when his buddy, pale gold fur now totally gray, had shouted at the mortician “My best friend died at midnight, he was buried at midnight! I want to do the same, d’you hear me?!”
Of course, there was nothing the mortician could do about *dying* at midnight, but he could *bury* him then.
It had touched him that Chance wanted to honor and remember him in that way. So he had come to the funeral. He had thrown a handful of black dirt onto the twin coffins, and after the graves were about half-filled, he threw in a bouquet of white, red, and black roses as a sign of grief. White for the innocence lost, red for the blood, black as a sign of mourning for their passage.
Jake went straight towards his lair, the remains of what had once been the office building of the old Megakat Salvage Yard. He knew that by doing this, he was clinging to the past, but he couldn’t help it. He just couldn’t bring himself to shut the door on the place, condemn it to the utter loneliness and depression broken abandoned old buildings seemed to bring out in one’s heart.
He went down into the hangar, where his coffin now rested. He opened the lid and was about to get in, when an idea hit him.
Quickly, he went to the rotting old lockers where his old flight suit hung. He tried to ignore the one next to his, the one with “TB” written in faded black marker, and out of his own locker got a large, thin-lined notebook and a pencil.
He set it down next to the coffin and got in.The next night, the minute he awoke, he got out the book and pencil.Sitting in his coffin, knees drawn up to his chest, back resting against the head of the box, notebook balanced precariously on his knees, he began to write.
Part One: The Initiation
The wind was freezing cold, nipping at his tail and arms as he half-ran towards the car. “I thought it was gonna be ‘sunny and warm’ today,” he muttered, making a mental note to never again trust a TV weatherman.
The day was *not* sunny; the sky overhead was gray and overcast,slate-blue clouds moving slowly across the sky. It looked about ready to rain. He walked faster.
Chance was waiting for him, his feet propped up onto the dashboard, the radio blaring out some song but Someone-or-other and reading a comic book.Was he singing along with the words or not? Jake couldn’t tell, it was too loud to understand. He opened the door and stood back, allowing the icy gust of wind that had been bugging him to hit Chance full force.
“Ackpth! Hey, what the . . ?” Chance sputtered as he lurched forward in surprise, comic fluttering to the floor of the truck as his hand hit the car horn and a loud *BEEP* filled the almost-empty lot. He looked up to see Jake laughing silently. “Crud, Jake, *warn* me when you’re gonna try to kill me next time, okay?” he asked as he tried to salvage what was left of his dignity.
“Why? You never warn *me* when *you* do something like that,” Jake replied as he slid into the seat of the truck and slammed the door shut.Damn door–it was obviously broken, it wouldn’t close properly unless one slammed it as hard as one possibly could, which wasn’t very good for the rest of the truck . . .
“That’s different,” he said huffily. “I’ve got permission and–”
“And I don’t?” Jake snorted. “That’s a weak one even for you, buddy.”
“Yeah, whatever.” The truck engine groaned and complained when he first turned the key, but finally it grudgingly started with a rough jerk forward.
Jake pitched forward slightly with the truck’s lurch. “Crud. With all the work we do on this thing, and it *still* can’t start without pushing us forward.”
“Hey!” Chance poked him in the ribs playfully. “Waitaminute Mister.*You’re* the one always tinkering with the stuff. Anyway, you should be glad we were able to fix it up enough after what happened with Mutilor . . .”
Jake groaned. “Do not even *mention* him. D’you know how hard it is to work with only two thirds of a truck? Not to mention that even though I managed to fix it, there will be no more ThunderTruck.”
Chance shrugged. “Hey, s’okay with me. I like flying the Turbokat better anyway.”
Jake grinned. “Yeah. Not to mention with the Turbokat I don’t have to worry about if *you* do some crazy twist on the jet I don’t hafta worry about flying off or outta the jet.”
Chance gave him an “I don’t know you” look and suddenly pushed the gas pedal as hard as he could.
“Whoa *h*ey!” Jake was pitched forward again, but before he could complain, there was another lurch and another, showing Chance had no patience for this. He gave up and sat back in his seat, folding his arms over his chest and pretending to sulk. But he couldn’t, not for long. They always did this, it was part of their relationship. If they stopped–well,Jake would not know what to do. Anyway, he could always get back at Chance later–probably through the swimming obstacle course. Even though Chance had learned how to swim, he still hated the water as much as any un-evolved cat would. If he had to swim, though, he would try to keep it with his head above the water–he felt safer that way.
And that was where Jake could always beat him, hands down, period.
Chance always insisted that he could beat Jake whenever he wanted to,but he felt that his partner should have at least *one* thing that Jake was better at. (Not that Jake believed a word of it. But he was used to Chance’s boasting and had only replied, “Yeah, that’s nice, what*ever* you say . . .)
“Moira . . . are you sure?”
The tall, blond furred, blond haired, seemingly young female kat whirled to confront the man behind her. Her brother, though she hated to admit it. They were both tall and very thin, almost to the point of emaciation, with deep, almost sunken eyes and dark, brooding personalities.The only two main differences were gender and coloring. She was both blond in fur and hair, and her eyes were a tawny color, almost golden. Her brother was dark, black hair, black fur, midnight eyes. And their names, as well.”Moira” in the language of the Old Ones meant “Daylight Serpent.” His name,Valtoru, was “Dark Death.” Very fitting, for both of them.
Moira scowled at her brother. “Of course I am sure, Valtoru. Unlike you, I plan my ideas; all of my thoughts are carefully considered.” She began to pace like a caged animal. “What I am *not* sure of yet,” she said softly, almost as if to herself, “is *who* I will choose. I am not certain yet.”
“Then just go observe them, Moira,” Valtoru said calmly, with a touch of caution. Moira had a very volatile temper, one single word could set her off. “By observing the mortals, you learn more of their customs and find the perfect candidate.”
Moira turned her head to look at him, eyes half-lidded and dark. “I said I was not sure, brother,” she said softly, a danger sign. “I have two choices. I know how I will trap them. I just do not know which of the two is more worthy of it.”
“And who are these two you have picked?” Valtoru was not very interested in who they were, but of how to warn them, of how to protect them from the mad schemes of his sister.
“I do not know their mortal names–but their Old Names are clear. There is Jakobil, there is Terezo. I do not know which.”
“Ah,” was all he said in reply.
* * *
“Home sweet home. Or should I say, ‘Yard, sweet yard’?”
Jake groaned. “No puns, please, Chance.”
“Why not? Litterbin is pure pun!”
“How would you know? You never pay attention whenever it comes on!”
Chance put a mock sincere hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Believe me, buddy, I *know* these things.”
Jake waved his hand off. “Uh-huh. Sure ya do.”
He pretended to be hurt. “What? Don’t believe me?”
Jake grinned. “Chance, anyone in their right mind would not trust you.Don’t you know that? Of course, you know what that says about *me*.” He was joking, of course. He trusted Chance with his life, no matter what. There were precious few people who were like that, and Jake knew he was lucky that Chance was his best friend.
Chance threw a pillow from the couch at him, knocking him out of his reverie. “Hello? You still in there? He-llo?!”
Jake grinned and tackled him, taking him by surprise. He pushed Chance over and hopped over him, darting towards the hangar. “Betcha can’t beat me on this course!” he called over his shoulder, answered by a “Yeah right. I’d like to see you beat me!” and the sound of footsteps behind him.
Ordinarily, they would have noticed the sudden and silent bolt of lightning thread its way across the gray sky. On guard, they would have seen a black hole open in the sky and a small, slender figure come floating out of it.
But they didn’t. And, looking back on that moment, Jake would curse himself for being so foolishly caught off-guard.The sound of the alarm cut into Chance’s hearing just as he was about to vault over a pit of sand, making him stumble and the pole fell backwards, landing him on his tail. “Ow.”
He looked up to see Jake grinning, and held up a hand to forestall the jibe that was coming. “Don’t say a word. Go see what Callie wants while I try to stand up, okay?”
Jake snickered but did as he was told.
There was something weird in Callie’s tone of voice–she sounded . . . bored. Her voice was dead. Usually, when she contacted them, her voice was urgent, worried, breathless. But now, dull and totally bored.
“Um, what’s wrong, Miss Briggs?”
“Oh. Hey Razorrr,” she drawled from the other side. “I kinda, like, y’know, need help dowwwn heeeere. Like, I’m in a church. The one onnnnnnn MegaC Drive. Y’knooow where thaaaat isssssssssss, don’t youuu?”
[Wide note: when Callie draws out a word, it’s like when you’re trying not to fall asleep and talking at the same time. Hope you know what I mean.]
Jake nodded, confused. “Yeah. What’s wrong?”
But Callie had already hung up.
::That’s strange,:: he thought as he slowly made his way to Chance, who had finally managed to stand up, but was still wincing in pain from his tailbone. Out loud, he said, “Something’s wrong.”
“Tell me about it,” Chance snorted. “I’ve got a broken tailbone and you haven’t told me what Callie wanted yet.”
“Well, right now your aching tail is the farthest thing on my mind.What I meant is, something’s wrong with Callie. I mean, she’s not acting herself!”
“Huh? Whadaya mean ‘she’s not acting herself’?”
“Well, she’s *bored*, for one thing.”
“Well, that’s ’cause *you* answered, and not ol’ T-Bone.”
“I’m serious Chance. I’m worried. It’s not like her. She’s at the old church on MegaC Drive. C’mon, move! We haven’t got all night!!”
Still grumbling, Chance lurched after his friend. ::Oww . . . my tail .. .:: was all that he could clearly think about as he reved up the jet and guided it out of the hangar.
Now, the church on MegaC Drive has always been the center of many modern and urban horror stories, usually about the last priest of the church, Abner Qui. Some said he haunted the place, some said that the ghosts of the people he had supposedly sacrificed in the name of religion haunted it. Whatever was really true, it was the perfect place for a trap.
Moira studied the sky above her, where were her chosen ones? Behind her, bound and gagged, lay a wide-eyed Callie. The drug had worn off, it had an annoying habit of doing that. But that didn’t matter, she already had what she wanted. Her chosen two were on their way . . .
They landed, not very gracefully, on the grounds before the church.
“Ow . . . if you ever *not* had a smooth landing, this would be it,”Razor complained as he got out of the jet, rubbing his tailbone like Chance had a few minutes earlier.
“Now ya know how *I* felt,” T-Bone muttered under his breath, following Razor into the church.
Razor cautiously opened the door. “Miss Briggs?” he called. “Hey, Miss Briggs, we’re here! What’s the problem?”
T-Bone gave his friend an annoyed look. “Don’t tell me you’re making the whole thing up, buddy.”
“I’m not! I swear, she said the church on MegaC Drive . . .” Razor started to protest.
A sudden, extremely loud *creak* came from upstairs and both of them jumped.
T-Bone swallowed nervously. “Hey, it’s comin’ from upstairs. Y’know what they say about this place?”
Razor gave him a sharp glance. T-Bone had never been one for horror stories, and anyway, he had always seemed to ignore the stories about other supposedly haunted places in Megakat City.
“They say that the priest lived upstairs; and that he died in his own room. They say he was murdered in some strange way; his body all mutilated and a gaping hole in his chest where his heart should have been.”
“Chance, this ain’t exactly the best time to tell fairy tales,” Razor snapped at his wide-eyed friend.
“But Razor, that sound came from *the very room they said he died in*!!”
Razor shrugged, though his heart increased slightly. “So? Look, I can’t believe this is the no fear T-Bone talking here! C’mon, let’s go see if Callie’s up there.” He tugged at his friends arm.
T-Bone followed reluctantly, all of his instincts screaming at him that there was something wrong. He remembered Jake’s words earlier: “Something’s wrong with Callie .. . she’s not herself.”
Moira heard them coming up the stairs, big heavy mortal footsteps that echoed throughout the silent church, affecting her sensitive hearing. She winced at the sound of someone stumbling and a whispered curse that she pretended not to hear. She looked up at the portrait above her.
It was a man, wearing an army uniform of the old days during the Great War. There was a look of indescribable cruelty in his face, and a wicked-looking knife cut slashed across his right cheek. In his arms he held a red leather bound book, with strange golden characters written across the front.
She lifted her arms and began to chant:
“Ylo meturial skowlja verdi
Mlkhja Moira dy Lakrtas!
No panman llewyo sokaoja!
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