It’s the three year anniversary of the publication of The Sunset Call, an anthology of terrifying modern fairy tales. So, it seems appropriate to post a small part.
The Story So Far: This is the tale of a some young punk and her mentor, a Taoist exorcist who’s teaching her the ins-and-outs of getting rid of evil spirits. At this moment, they’re hunting a pack of vampires (called upyri which is the actual origin of the vampire name). They get some unexpected aid in the form of a Catholic priest. Unfortunately, the priest isn’t pulling his power from where he thinks he is…
She made the decision even before she thought about it. There was a knife in her boot. Up, out and slid against her palm. She cursed. That hurt a hell of a lot more than it looked like in the movies.
She held her bleeding palm up towards the ceiling. “Hey!” she shouted.
The upyri hesitated. It had exerted a lot of energy. And food was near.
Honestly, the young woman had never encountered speed like that before. She was down, pinned. Scrolls off to the side. Screaming. In desperation she took the powder in her hand and smeared it on the thing’s face as it tried to gnaw hers off. She’d messed up hard and this was going to be the last thing she’d ever see.
The explosion took her by surprise, as the upyri was ripped up and back through a small tear in reality. For a moment, it was gone and she could see beyond it.
A startling beauty that she hadn’t expected to see.
This was the hell that spawned an upyri? This place that called to her on a level she barely understood? It moved her to tears.
The light finally faded and winked out.
Behind it was the old man.
He helped her to her feet. “Are you okay?”
“One more…” she managed to croak out. The old man looked over to the center of the church. The priest was on top of the last one, forcing the cross into the thing’s face. It was screaming. She smiled. “Well that takes care of that.”
The old man sighed. “Not really.”
“Why? He’s killing it.”
The old man pulled out the long scroll. “He’s not killing it. He’s feeding off of it.”
That startled the young woman. “What?!”
The old man pointed to the vampire on the floor. “Hyena.” He then pointed to the priest. “Lion.”
“And this isn’t a good thing?”
The old man pulled a small vial out of his robes. “No.”
He strode up to the priest, who simply saw his allies coming. “I’ve got it!” he exclaimed. There was a certain amount of primal joy in his voice as he pushed the symbol of his faith deeper into the dying creature’s skull. To the priest’s surprise, the old man splashed the contents of a vial onto the priest’s face. The priest howled in pain, dropping his cross and covering his face. Vapors were steaming off of him. The upyri started to scuttle backward at top speed.
The young woman couldn’t keep track of what was going on or why, but she wasn’t about to let this thing live. She chased it into a corner, hit it with the powder. And she felt an irrational anger wash over her as she spit on it, then read the words to activate her exorcism scroll, sending it away.
She turned back and had a hard time comprehending what she saw.
The priest was almost zombie-like, a puppet with golden lines extending backwards to a luminal master. He was trying to advance on the old man who was calmly reading the long scroll, bathed in an auburn light that seemed to come from the world around him.
The master of the priest was what made her jaw drop.
It was easily the largest thing she’d ever seen, filling about a third of the cathedral, hunched over. It was an outline of the thing, drawn in light, a spirit–obviously–like the ones she and the old man had driven out of the upyri.
Fee fi fo fum.
This spirit, thing, whatever was so much bigger, so much more powerful. Its head was a misshapen mass, like someone had beaten it repeatedly with a club at different angles and let it swell. Eyes looked out, at several different angles. The young woman really wasn’t sure how many eyes the thing had but the number was definitely greater than one. The body was a lumpy mess. Ropey tendons marking over-sized muscles. A swollen belly. Huge flat feet. In one hand, it held the glowing lines that led to the priest. In the other, it had… something. She couldn’t make out what it was, other than human-ish and definitely squealing when the giant bit into it, which it did absently betraying huge, crooked, flat, teeth.
Fee Fi Fo Fum.
Its back, though. That was the worst. At first, she thought it was a bag slung around his neck but looking again she spotted that there were leathery folds on the giant’s neck. These stretched out on his back to form a huge, translucent fleshy sack, a sack which was full of people. She didn’t know if these were real people or ghosts or something else entirely but the sheer fear it created in her almost made her throw up.
The giant popped the rest of whatever it was eating in its mouth and put its hand on the auburn light. It pushed downward and the light began to squish underneath its pressure. The old man was forced slowly to his knees.