Episode Three: In the Dark and Light – Part One

Snapshot

The Dawnrise Corporation’s top security team met Zencho at the airport.  They were faces he knew well, a trio of men that regularly escorted him when residing in London.  The team well knew the routine of getting Zencho through the airport with next to no hiccups.  They weren’t off to a good start.

A photographer managed to slip the security ropes.  His camera flashed the moment Zencho rounded the corner on the passenger boarding bridge.  A string of curses left the man walking at his side.  Marius was his neighbor on the plane since the unscheduled stop in Iceland to pick Zencho up.  By the sounds of the choice words coming out of Marius, he was definitely not used to the life of fame and fortune.

A grin arched across Zencho’s face as he reached out to shake Marius’ hand.  “Sorry about the camera.  Wasn’t really expecting them this soon.”

Marius whistled low, a brief shake of his head made in disbelief.  He shook Zencho’s hand in return. “Hey man, all good. Been a pleasure meeting you. You need help getting out of here?”

Zencho glanced over his shoulder.  The three men dressed in black divided the crowd on their approach, forcing the handful of paparazzi back.  Zencho often wondered just how much the photographers made off these candid shots of him if purchasing airfare to get past security didn’t hinder them in the least. “Nah, I’m good.  Thanks, Marius.  Make sure to give me a ring, yeah?  Go out for a beer while you’re in London, maybe give you a bit of a tour of the sights.”
Continue reading

Episode Two: With the Rain Comes Change – Part Three

Sprouting from the Ashes

           A droplet formed at the end of the human’s finger. Fianynlas watched with avid eyes as the drop slowly swelled and rounded, then fell, gleaming and perfect in the still air. The liquid shone for a moment where it landed, rich as garnet against the dark bark beneath.

           The blood vanished, soaking into the bark as though it had never been. Power gathered heavy in the air like a storm. Fianynlas closed his eyes to savor the sensation. Energy hummed under his skin; potent, electric. A new tree sprouted. He heard the heaving of soil and creaking of bark as the trunk shot skyward. Fianynlas reveled in the feeling, as though each stretching branch and furling leaf was an extension of his own flesh.

           The Heart Tree spread, branches reaching wider, and roots burrowing deep into the soil. Fianynlas smiled. Slowly, the surge settled but the power remained, steady and soft as the whisper of the leaves. The Forest grew. Fianynlas thrived along with it. The magic at his fingertips was stronger than the day before, dancing all the more eagerly at his whim.

           Before the fire, Fianynlas had been a god within his borders. The Forest stretched far as eyes could see across his portion of Faerie. The entirety of his court had once easily gathered in the shade beneath the Heart Tree’s massive branches. The most beautiful of them all had shared his bed among the boughs. His lips curled with a fierce snarl as Fianynlas shoved the thought of Melanthian aside. Flames licked at his memories, agonizing and bitter as the betrayal.

Continue reading

Episode Two: With the Rain Comes Change – Part Two

Come Alive

Ava Steele lived in a two-bedroom apartment in an older high rise in the West End of Vancouver, a block off Davie Street.  Marius discovered early in his living with her that life in the busy downtown core was far different from suburban Burnaby.  He missed his quiet street and the forest he jogged through each morning.

Ronan’s advice in Marius staying with Ava proved accurate.  Ava’s loving presence and her always bright smile had helped him immensely.  Marius reacquainted himself with household chores during the leave of absence he took from CSIS.  His sister worked full time so Marius thought it only fair that he take care of the house and meals.  Ava hadn’t argued.

In truth, playing housekeeper gave him simple tasks to think about and focus on outside of missing his family and home.  Each morning, Marius jogged down to Third Beach to watch the sun rise.  Only as the sky lit in oranges and yellows did he give himself permission to think.  When none but the seagulls and lapping waves could see the flow of tears wetting his cheeks or the mumbled prayers of forgiveness he told the rising sun.  Marius started the trek back to the apartment by the time the dawn had calmed into blue grey skies.

The beach trips gradually helped, the need to cry turned into quiet contemplation of cresting waves.  The hole in his heart dwindled in rawness, but still persistently ached.  Marius recognized early on why healing evaded him.  Until he discovered, one way or another, what had become of Issy, Marius had no chance in patching all the cracks.

Still, life marched on.

Every year Marius made it a point to take his sister out for her birthday.  Ava named the place, and Marius footed the bill.  This year, Ava selected a public house down on the corner of Denman and Davie Street with a view of the sea.  This year, Ava didn’t bring her latest girlfriend.  Instead, Ava and Marius dined together at a table on the outdoor patio.  They ordered burgers and wedge cut fries, then settled into their usual rounds of birthday drinks.  Fortunately, they could crawl back to Ava’s from the pub if necessary.
Continue reading

Episode Two: With the Rain Comes Change – Part One

One-Way Ticket

          Roland sucked in a sharp breath. The metal table was cold as ice against his naked back. The skin on his arms prickled with the chill that came through the thin sheet covering him. His chest squeezed, his throat tightening with the desperate urge to cough. Roland gritted his teeth, forcing himself to listen in silence.

           Moments stretched before he trusted the silence enough to breathe again.  Roland lifted his hands to shove the sheet off of his face. He sat up, wincing at the chill of the air. A fit of coughing followed, painful and all too loud despite his best attempts to muffle it. Roland spat clotted blood into the sheet and swore.

           He knew damn well where he was. Roland hardly even needed the quick glance around the room that showed him the morgue’s familiar white walls. A shrouded body rested on the neighboring table.

“Bloody fuckin’ hell.” Roland resisted the urge to slam his fist down on the metal table.  He didn’t have the time to spare on venting his frustration and grief.

           Roland gave the room another look over, this time far more careful in his observation. He was lucky to find the morgue empty, but he likely had minutes before whoever was on duty this evening returned. Roland didn’t want to be here when they did. An empty table would cause enough fuss without someone actually seeing him walk out.

           Rubbing his hands over his arms, Roland frowned. The skin under his palms was fever warm despite the chill of the room.  That warmth puzzled him, as it always did. Roland shoved the thought aside. He needed to get out.

A lab coat hung on the back of the desk chair. He slid from the table. Without the meager protection of the sheet, the kiss of cold air on his skin made him shiver. Roland wondered if Ellen was on duty. He hoped Keefe was wrong and she hadn’t really liked him.

           Roland tugged the lab coat on, grateful when it slid over his shoulders with only a little tightness. This was definitely not Ellen’s lab coat. His mind fished for the other pathologist’s name. Exhaling sharply, Roland shoved the thought aside. It didn’t matter if he remembered now. At least the lab coat offered some small salve to his modesty. Continue reading

Episode One: So Marks the End – Part Three

A Vicious Turn

The day dawned grey and soaking.  The streets shimmered silver as car tires sloshed through puddles.  Rain pattered on the colourful umbrellas bobbing up the roadside.  Marius rubbed at his chest and stepped away from the hotel window.  The curtains swayed behind him, blocking the dismal day from view.

Ronan’s phone call woke him earlier than he wanted.  Marius took his time in getting ready.  The heat of the shower worked miracles in relaxing the stress from the muscles across his back and shoulders.  Meanwhile, the mini coffee maker managed to sputter out his guarantee for heartburn into a waiting plastic cup.  Marius drank the coffee without sugar, cream, or complaint.  The bitterness provided the perfect start to a day that promised to be anything but good.

A familiar black car pulled up to the curb just as Marius reached the bottom of the stairs.  He drew in a steadying breath and pulled the car door open.  Ronan’s warm smile greeted Marius as he settled himself in the car.

“Good morning,” Ronan said.  “Did you manage to get any sleep?”

“Yeah, eventually did.”  Marius didn’t bother to return the greeting.  He didn’t share the sentiment.  “You taking me home?”

“If that is what you want,” Ronan said.  The car pulled out into the flow of cars streaming along the street.  “I will not force you to see anything you rather not.”

The memory of emergency lights and sirens surfaced swiftly in his mind.  Last night’s discovery haunted him.  The still face of his wife as he held her hand in the ambulance was an image he could never forget.  The emergency attendant told him not to move the towels and blankets from her.  Experience in similar situations made sure he listened.  His years as an intelligence agent never prepared him to deal with this situation on such a personal level.  Sharalyn was dead and Issy was missing.
Continue reading

Episode One: So Marks the End – Part Two

Prayers

“You know, Roland. I think that hot pathologist likes you.”

Roland turned his eyes from the street outside the passenger window to study his partner’s face, glad to find Keefe’s focus was still on the traffic. “Aye?” He said slowly, not really sure who Keefe was talking about.

“You know, Ellen. Blonde, green eyes, Tracy would slap me for looking.”

“Oh, aye, Ellen.” Roland frowned and turned his attention back on the street. “You really think she likes me? I thought she was just bein’ nice.”

“Yes. She likes you. I think you should ask her out.” Keefe said. “Hell, we could do a double date if you’re nervous. Tracy’d like that… get somebody to watch the kids and…”

“No.” Roland said, a bit too quickly. “I dinna fancy her. She’s a verra nice lass and sharp as Damascus steel but… no.”

Keefe let out a little huff of breath. “If I didn’t know better I’d think you had aspirations to the priesthood.”

Roland chuckled. “No. That isna for me either.”

Keefe snorted. “If you say so… Check that map again? I don’t know the neighborhood.”

Roland tugged the tablet closer, shifting his fingers against the screen to bring the map closer. “We’re still going the right way. Next right.”

“This is just a routine interview on that Calloway murder isn’t it? Don’t know why it got handed off to us.”

“No, I dinna ken either. I’ve been over basics of the file but it isna ours.” That nagged at him as it had been since they’d been given the call, and he turned to frown out the side window again. “It must be urgent?” Roland tapped his fingers on the car door and watched worn buildings slide by the window. “Otherwise I dinna ken why Rogers wouldna just put it off until he could do it himself.”

“I’m not sure what could be so urgent about an interview. They didn’t say anything about an arrest. Maybe we’ll have some idea when we get there.”

Continue reading

Episode One: So Marks the End – Part One

Faces in the Fog

Her skin was still warm.  Smooth and rich beneath the drift of his fingers along her cheekbone.  Her smile must have been a beautiful thing to see, spread over full lips painted a natural bronze that blended well with her dark complexion.  Mel’s hand strayed out over the copper curls sprawled across the carpet, crunching them into his fist.  His curious eyes watched as they sprung from his grasp on spreading his fingers.  So vivacious, so insistent, just like the woman’s reaction when she first noticed him lurking in the shadows of her home.

“I’ve heard it said the moon lays his head down to sleep every morning,”  Mel said.  He gently gathered the woman’s head into his hands, leaning over her to brush his cool lips against her brow.  “That he forgets for the day all he has seen throughout the night.”  A smile touched the corner of his lips as he gave his head a subtle shake.  “Don’t believe those lies.  The moon neither sees nor cares what is done in the shadow.”

Shadow crept from the corners of the room.  Rivulets of inky black flowed over the carpet against the moonlight filtering through the bedroom window.  That liquid shadow smeared itself against the walls as if painted there by the palms of children, splashed up onto the ceiling with careless glee.  An incoherent chattering echoed from the darkness, faint and repetitive.  Gradually, the room grew darker inside than the world beyond the window.  Shadow and fog and ink followed him as if they were no more than his adoring pets.

Sharalyn did not reply.  She stared into the face of the creature that hung over her.  Mel could see in her eyes what she saw of him.  His moon pale beauty marred by burn scars.  His river of black hair, once silken and soft, now reduced to strung ash, fragile and in danger of breaking.  He loathed what he saw and shoved her from his lap.  Long, lean legs extended as he pushed to his feet, brushing the human’s filth from his clothing.  Blood and tears soaked into fabric pants, stained the leather of his wings.  He grew tired of playing with this meal.

The house was what attracted him.  The stink of magic was faint, but recognizable.  Mel found no sign of the ones that had left the magic behind.  The brothers that led the Hunt, that had rescued him from the fire that left him scarred, were not here.

Thin, pale fingers plucked a picture frame off the dresser, tipped into the illumination of the daring moonlight trying to force its way past the window.  Mel leaned against the window sill to peer over the faces in the photograph.  A woman, a man and a girl smiled up at him.  The woman lay suffering on the carpet.  The man was handsome but not home.  The girl?  Well, he could sense her asleep down the hall.

Continue reading