Hallowe'en Bonus StoryDiscuss
This story does not take place, but if it did, it would be on Hallowe’en of the current (Fifth) year of the Addergoole School.
“He said it would be back here,” she panted, as they stumbled to a halt.
“It?” Callista snapped. There was a weedy-looking in-ground pool, the pavement cracked, two plastic K-mart lounge chairs, the seats sagging in, a few sick-looking trees.
“There,” the woman pointed. Between the trees, an archway. It looked old and foreboding in the dim light, heavy stone cracked and sitting at strange angles. Maybe it had once been part of some old barn or house, though it was strange nothing else would have remained.
A chorus of howls spurred Vlad forward. Shiva had clawed him once, in the middle of an intense game of dodge ball, and it had taken a month to heal. He didn’t imagine werewolf scratches would be any more pleasant, and there was Callista to think of.
“Through here,” the woman panted, showing them forward.
“Wait, what about you?”He twisted to look at her, noticing as he did that the archway was… Styrofoam? A Hallowe’en prop? Nicely carved, very realistic, but he was running for his life through a Styrofoam arch?
He skidded to a halt, and she shoved him through. “I’ll be fine,” she insisted, as she shoved Callista through as well. “I’m the alpha’s mate.”
“…oh,” he answered, and then he was falling.
He muttered a Working as he went, thickening the air, slowing his fall (and, more importantly, Callista’s),taking a moment to curse Shiva’s world-hopping teleportation.
Even taking the slowing into account – he was good at this sort of thing; they were falling like feathers – they fell for a long time, the sun still setting as they did so, the moon still round and bright in the sky. Everything else, though – in the distance, he could see some a small city of some sort; below them was a small river, maybe a large stream. It didn’t look at all familiar; it didn’t look like America.
It didn’t even look like the first world, more like some backwoods second-world place with aspirations of greatness.
“Where are we?” Anatoliy’s thoughts echoed his own as they floated towards the ground. “Nice trick, by the way, man.”
“Thanks,” Vlad murmured. “And… I don’t know. This is getting a little freaky.”
”Getting?” Callista squeaked. He looked sideways at her; her face was pale in the dim light. At least it was warmer here; she wasn’t shivering anymore.
“Says the six-armed girl,” Tolly teased her. She glared at him.
“Rub it in, why don’t you. I’m a freak, yeah. But…” she stretched a little, arching athletically in the languid free-fall. Departed gods, either with her mask up or down, she was beautiful. “That doesn’t mean I can’t be freaked out by weidness. Floating through the air in some strange place - we’re not in Kansas anymore, yadda, yadda – that’s weird. Being chased by werewolves is fucked up. Having kids point magic wands at us is fucked up. This whole mess is fucked up, and I don’t know what’s wrong with thinking that.”
They landed softly in a giant pile of feathers, and, as she brushed herself off, she added, “having six arms is fucked up. It’s nice to be able to say that.”
Tolly laughed, a quiet and introspective sort of chuckle that only shook the trees for a couple hundred yards. “Being eight foot four is fucked up, Callie. Having six arms is hot.”
It was hard to tell, in the shadows and dim light, but Vlad was pretty sure Callista was blushing. “Shut up,” she muttered softly. “You shouldn’t…”
“No,” Tolly agreed quietly, more serious than Vlad was used to hearing him, “I shouldn’t. But this isn’t the school, and so I will.” He pulled her into a bear hug, and Vlad did his best to fade into the background. “You’re gorgeous, Callie, and some day you’ll walk away from Ib and be able to realize that again.”
Oh, no… Vlad winced. There were things you just didn’t say to the Kept.
“Why not now?” Callista murmured softly. “What’s holding you to the school?”
“Geasa and promises,” Tolly answered, sounding a bit sad.
“Who knows if they still hold? Who knows where we are?”
While he couldn’t fault her for wanting to run away from Ib, the logic seemed flawed to Vlad. He and Tolly both were saved from having to face it, though, by another chorus of wolf howls.
“Eleven departed gods, not more of them!” Vlad muttered. They were in a forest, it seemed, trees in all directions, but they’d landed, in the incongruous pile of feathers, just to the side of a path that was nearly a road. Might actually be a road, as it seemed rutted with cart-tracks.
He asked the wind, with a short Working, which way the wolves were coming from. From the North, and a little to the East, the wind told him, although it – and he, seemed a little confused – East felt wrong, as if it were facing the wrong direction.
The road ran mostly East-West, so, after another hurried consultation with the ground and the air to be certain of direction, he pointed West down the road. “That way,” he suggested.
“Sounds good to me,” Anatoliy nodded. “I don’t want to be dog food.” Before anyone could argue, he scooped Callista up into an inglorious over-the-shoulder hold. “Hold on,” he told her. “Vlad, you’ll have to carry yourself.”
“Right,” Vlad agreed.
They ran. Tolly’s feet pounded against the packed dirt, while Vlad’s hit in near-soundless echoes just behind him. Callista had her eyes closed, and was holding two handfuls of Tolly’s shirt tightly; she was wearing a tight-lipped look of concentration. Vlad wondered if she was doing a natural Working… and what her natural magic was. Then he stopped wondering and just ran.
“Are you stupid or something?”
He didn’t fall over when the voice came up right by his ear, but it was a close thing. Callista, still over Tolly’s shoulder, nearly fell to the ground as Tolly lumbered to a stop.
Vlad slowed as well, glancing at the skinny waif of a kid – another teenager, probably, but he looked under-washed and underfed – who was jogging alongside him with no apparent effort. “Where did you come from?” he asked, trying not to snap at the kid.
“Are you deaf and stupid? I’ve been running next to you for minutes, “ the kids retorted, grinning at him with an expression he didn’t think was friendly.
“Why do you think I’m stupid?” he asked, taking the level tone he used with small children.
“Running away from werewolves. We’re not ‘pyres or anything, you know. We won’t eat you. But do you have any food? We’ll eat that.”
Tolly set Callista down gently, and fished in his pockets again. Before Vlad could warn him that feeding rum to kids was probably a bad idea, he pulled out a couple protein bars and offered them to the kid.
“They taste like shit, but they’ll fill you up.
“Nothing fills me up,” the kid said, with more than a little teenaged melodrama. He brought one of the wrapped bars to his mouth –
“Wait, no,” Callista intervened. “Here, let me.” She risked her hands near his snarling teeth. “The wrapper isn’t edible, okay? It will make your belly unhappy, and make your poop shiny.” Callista, Vlad remembered, like the rest of them, had kids.
He perked. “Shiny poop?”
“Not in a good way, sweetie.” She pocketed the second wrapper, and handed the unwrapped bars back to the kid, who made them disappear quickly enough that he probably didn’t taste them at all.
“More?” he asked, licking his teeth.
“No more, sorry,” Tolly said. “All I’ve got left is...” he reached into his pocket, “half a stale Oreo.”
The words were barely out of his mouth when the cookie was inside the kid’s mouth.
Copyright © 2009-2010 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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