Mark and Desmond slump down against the basement wall. Demon-killing is exhausting work.
Mark stares blankly for a moment then looks at Desmond. “I’m so sorry. It just came out.”
Desmond wipes demon slime off his axe. “It’s fine.”
“No.” Mark puts down his dagger, still dirty. “I mean, thank you. That’s kind. But it’s not fine. Obviously it’s not fine.”
“Don’t stress about it.” He pulls a plastic bottle out of his coat and pours oil over the axe.
Mark picks up the dagger and starts wiping it off. “I don’t even know why I said that.”
Desmond passes him the bottle. “Said what?”
Tommy got up and left in a hurry, head stooped, clutching his arm. He headed out into the trees. Some looks went around the campfire. I was finished dinner, so I figured I could take this one. I stood up slowly, and picked up my machete.
Graham nodded too, from across the fire. He went to the RV, and came out with the one remaining gun we had bullets for, a big heavy revolver. I didn’t have to ask how many shots were left. We all kept count in our heads: 11. We saved them for each other.
“Maybe someday, we’ll live in the castle!” The young man, Devon, sat on the grass and pointed to the cliffs where the Baron’s towers overlooked the bay, the spires piercing the sky.
The woman, his aunt Edwina, had lived long enough to remember when there were only three of those towers. Now there were six. By the time Devon was old, there could be a dozen.
At first, sadness, weeping, grief. So much. Too much.
I can see them all, grieving for me. There are flickers of laughter. A relief.
Then, more crying. Eventually more laughing. More joy.
The lawyer took a deep breath and looked down at the cave floor. The trunk was still there: leather-bound wood, the kind of thing you’d lug onto a steamship. She opened it, and the genie flowed out, a creature of smoke but with a sly face and fire in its eyes.
“How long…?” it said.
“Three months,” she answered. “I work fast.”
Colonel Krakus was starring at the map of Warsaw when the earthquake hit them, or what felt like an earthquake. The room lurched to one side and refused to lurch back again.
There’s fire all around and too much smoke to really see, but habits are habits, and Sam Yamato’s body has done this dozens of times. It’s not that he’s not hopped-up on adrenaline and terror. It’s that he is used to being hopped-up on adrenaline and terror.
She heard his little feet pad up to her bed before he spoke. “Mariah, you said we’d learn conjuring today.”
She kept her eyes closed, refused to answer. The boy thrived on abuse, and she was good at it. Continue reading
Another messenger. From another village. With another monster they needed her to kill. And she didn’t have a fucking choice. Mariah stared into the camp fire, took a bite out of her lump of cheese.
The messenger was just a boy this time, smooth-faced, high-voiced. He sat off to her right and a little further from the fire.
Adjunct Professor Zhang’s final exam began as any would, except that one of her students was from thirty-two years in the future.