Girl Chameleon

girl cameleon

Today I rode the train wearing a short plaid skirt and black sweater, my long hair pulled back in a pony tail. Today I had the culture of a community that was ancient, passed down for centuries. They valued male children and looked upon females as little more than servants, and even in this country after establishing their own communities, making certain their children spoke the language, and amassing a great deal of wealth and power, they still treated females as less important. I headed to my job. I was not in a hurry. It would be there when I arrived no matter how I looked. I had arranged it this way as I often was not sure what state I would be in on the morning next.

I sat and did my 8 hr shift and walked the 4 or 5 blocks it took to get to the train for me to ride home. I sat as men eyed me, some with admiration, and others with mixed messages. I was too aggressive for an Asian girl. I was not supposed to feel comfortable looking people in the eye. But I was comfortable doing a lot of things that others did not expect.

The next morning my hair waved and as I looked in the mirror to brush it into a simple ponytail I decided to stop at the corner store to pick up snacks for my trip across town. I put on a long floral skirt, my cowboy boots and a sweater then headed for the store.

“Hola,” said the clerk in the store. And continued in Spanish asking a question she knew already I could not answer.

“Hola Esme, you know I don’t speak a lot of Spanish, my parents are black and white, and they do not have any language skills.”

“Why you don’t take a class or two, it’s not good for Hispanic girls not to speak the language no matter who their parents are.”

“You’re right, maybe I will consider it. Gotta go, see ya. Adiós, muchacha.”

I went to the station and waited for my train. Two young Latino men flirted in Spanish. I smiled, but I did not understand them.

“I’m American; born and raised, I’m sorry I don’t understand you.” I said.

“It’s okay, I teach you beautiful, many things.” one guy responded.

“It’s okay, really I have to go. This is my stop.” I said.

“Oh you think you too good for me eh?” he asked almost hostile.

“No,” I said, “but I really have to go.”

He stood in front of me, but as the train stopped the train police encouraged him to leave me alone and I stepped off the train.

I spent another 8 hour shift listening to the other Hispanic girls talking about the quiet little Asian girl who sometimes temped at the office. It was strange how they interpreted her quietness as aloofness, and accused her of being rude and acting as if she was better than them.

I rode the train home in silence and sat with an elderly Asian woman who kept eyeing me as if I were about to take off with her purse. I felt sorry for her.

On the following day I could practically sport a curly Angela Davis Afro. I pulled it into a curly ball on the top of my head and wore my giant loop earrings. I wore a turtle neck and a fitted pencil style skirt over tights with pumps. No matter how attractive I felt, today would be a difficult day.

I walked to the train. No one spoke to me, and no one bothered me. This was the only time I ever seemed to have concerns about how people responded to me. On a day like today when the train was filled with people I could be certain some guy was going to call me a bitch because I wouldn’t talk to him. I could also be certain that white women would look at me funny or make comments about my clothes, and I had a pretty good idea how things would go at work. I had been dealing with this type of thing for a long time now and could sort out how my day would be based on the state I was in when I woke up in the morning.

When I walked in the door I could already hear the heavy sighs and whispers. One of the girls said. “I hate when she comes, she always has that angry look on her face and that attitude.”

Like anybody else wouldn’t get an attitude if the first thing they heard every day was someone talking about them. And as far as angry, well let’s just say on this day in particular my work load was heavier, people found fault with everything even if it was correct, I got shorter breaks, and on top of all that they were rude and even nasty to me. At the end of this eight-hour shift I often had to remind myself of the reason I kept this account. It was bad if I had to do more than one day of this. But oftentimes the day following would be the flip-side.

When I woke I showered and washed my hair, no pony tails today. I wore it loose and covered it with a baseball cap. I wore my jeans and a pair of sneakers. I walked briskly to the station, ignored everyone on the train, and when I got into the office all the girls were running around kissing my ass. Depending on how awful the previous day was, I did damage control. I resubmitted reports that were rejected as perfectly sound and refused to redo them. I defended against comments and criticisms, especially about clothes. I threatened to tell management about gossip, and accused the staff of reverse racism. I even had the nerve to feign illness and leave early.

When I woke the next day I felt more like myself. My hair was always a good indicator of what state I was in, and I reached up to feel it’s curly resistant mass. I reached over to the bedside table and grabbed a brush. In the bathroom I ran it under warm water took a finger of petroleum jelly and brushed the belligerent curls into submission and after smoothing the front and sides pulled it into a ponytail in the back. I put on a pair of black skinny jeans, a fitted top layered with a t-shirt over it and a pair of high heeled boots.

My name is Fille Chameleon. I am in many ways just like any other 27-year-old female executive. I own my own temp agency and help other young women like myself to find employment. I am a go-getter, a motivated, focused, intelligent and aspiring young woman no different than any other woman that is in every way except one. Let me take the opportunity to tell you why and explain a little about myself.

I was born in a small town called Rochester, Illinois. There is nothing out of the ordinary about it. It is small, a population of less than 4000 people. My growing up there might have been a wonderful thing except for the fact that I was out of the ordinary. The year I was born my parents lived between a couple with a boy genius named Thaddeus whose IQ was greater than Einstein, and a women the town would have stoned as a witch if such things were legal. My parents had moved there thinking a small town experience would be a wonderful environment to raise a family in, and it should have been, but after my birth that idea changed drastically.

You see, I am something of a freak of nature, not odd-looking in fact in most ways quite pretty. But to people I am a bit of a mystery. Our housekeeper was the first to notice. At 2 weeks old she had been shocked to happen through my nursery and discover an Asian baby in the crib where once an African-American and Caucasian racially mixed baby used to be. She ran to tell my mother who first had been ready to call the police to report me as kidnapped, but waited until after having gone to my room to see what had happened.

It was true, there was an Asian baby there, but my mother had carried me full term and recognized me right away. After some convincing, our housekeeper grew accustomed to my occasional deviations from my ethnicity. In my first years, I changed racial makeup on a regular basis. It was hard for me to attend school because my parents never knew what I would look like from one week to the next. They decided it was best if they sought a special school for me and in the meantime decided they would home-school me.

The boy next door had grown accustomed to my changing and had begun theorizing that it was due to some molecular instability. He had decided that genetic patterns for a particular ethnicity would accumulate while I slept, and whatever was most abundant would be dominant and it would be what I reflected when I woke in the morning. The variety he found was based on those in my heritage, which could be endless considering my mixed culture. He also theorized that the distance in my history from that heritage affected the length I stayed in a particular ethnicity, based on the fact that I could stay weeks in my actual form, but only days as others.

The witch next door had another opinion. I was either gifted or cursed. There were many days when I felt both of these. By the time I was seventeen I had been the victim of every racial slur known to man. It was silly to think that other races of people didn’t experience racial tension or oppression, or some difficulty based on their ethnic, social, or cultural differences. No matter what female I was when I woke up, there was always someone who had some comment or treatment based on a stereotype, a cultural belief, or some social norm that dictated how women of that background should be treated.

My parents had thought that it would be necessary to find a solution to my problem. I chose however to embrace it, and upon finishing high school decided to begin my own temp agency. I chose assignments who did not mind a different temp everyday and I employed ladies of all ethnic backgrounds. I chose this route so that when I changed it was not an issue. I could sometimes keep one assignment until the company began looking for a permanent employee. Often they would request one of my selves but I would decline saying that person only takes temp positions and offer them someone else.

I made a pretty decent living and aside from the social difficulties I had a pretty good life. It did have its difficulties. I could not generally have a steady boyfriend though I had worked out ways to date. If I wanted to see someone more than once I would simply call him in the morning to check his plans after knowing who I’d be that day. People who enjoyed my company usually didn’t mind making spontaneous plans and if they had plans I would chalk it up to scheduling at my job and promise to call the next time I was free. I never let men spend the night.

There were other things too, like tattoos or piercings that were obvious impossibilities. I mean, how did one explain that every single employee had the same tattoo in the same spot, or a nose ring? I was lucky not to have visible birthmarks to explain away. It’s also why I never chose hairstyles particular to my ethnicity. Some things were just not worth having to cover for or explain. I learned about clothing preferences, mannerisms, speech patterns, and even behaviors. Some I mastered, others I avoided.

My phone rang early one Saturday.

“Hey “Girl”, drawled a Creole voice at the other end of the line, “How are you today?” Francesca was my best friend. She was the only one here in the City to know about my odd circumstances. Her family practiced black magic so she more easily accepted things that were out of the ordinary.

“I’m just laying here, why?” I asked impatiently. I knew her mannerisms, and was well aware that it would take the next ten minutes of pleasantries and formal good mornings before she would get around to asking, “What you doing today?” in her slow drawl.

“Housework,” was my bland answer.

“Met a guy yesterday that knows you from childhood. Claims to know about your issues; Says he used to live next door to you in the Midwest.”

I sat up in bed, “Oh my god is he like really smart and nerdy.”

“Well he does the smart part, but he looks kinda dreamy, if I didn’t get the impression he was interested in you, I’d be trying to keep him for myself. I guess you want the number then, I didn’t give him yours.” she drawled.

“How did you get on the subject of my issues?” I asked.

“Oh well, he never told me exactly what they were, only said you were a unique sort of girl too mysterious for a small town not equipped to deal with rapid change, and that your special differences made it necessary for your parents to move to somewhere they could find help for you. I just assumed he knew.”

I tried not to sound too excited, since she sounded disappointed. “Maybe he has dreamy friends.” I said. Francesca perked up quickly; the prospect of trickle down always made up for anyone who was interested in me. But this was different, most of the guys I dated I couldn’t have real relationships with, this guy actually knew about my unique circumstances.

She waited another five minutes before giving me the number. I talked another ten minutes so as not to appear too enthusiastic and waited another five or so before calling just in case she had actually been on the line with him when she called me. Francesca was the type of girl who enjoyed doing such things.

I picked up the phone and dialed the number. I’m not certain why I felt nervous. I had known him all my life. But now he was not a boy he was a man and from what Francesca said he was a knock out. And she was a woman who knew man flesh. She never used the word dreamy unless a guy was thoroughly attractive. She liked muscle, but she preferred tight compact men not big. She liked athletic, but not like football players, that is unless it was soccer. The phone rang multiple times and then the machine picked up.

“Hi, it’s Fille” I was just calling to leave you a number where you can reach me. Call when you have time.” I hung up. I hoped I had managed not to sound too disappointed. I got up and made myself some coffee.

At noon while I was playing my music and cleaning my kitchen the phone rang. I turned down the music then answered. “Hello.”

“Hey, it’s Thaddeus, I was on the other line with my mother when you called, how are you?”

“I’m well, how are you. Are you the smartest man at your university?” I asked.

“10th, but it’s not about how smart, it’s what you do with your smart. I hear you have leveraged your smart and created a fabulous Temp Agency. That was an ingenious way to figure out employment. But now that your all grown up I’m curious to know how you manage relationships.”

“And I’d like to know if you’re interested in Francesca?” I said.

“I was until I discovered she knew you. She’s a woman who’d make any man curious. Just the same, I wouldn’t risk choosing any woman who’d ruin a possibility of getting to know you better.” I could hear his smile through the phone. “Why worried?”

“No, just don’t want to get in the way.” I answered.

“When can I see you, can we have dinner tonight?” he asked.

It was the first time a guy had asked me out that I didn’t have to worry about what I looked like when I woke up.

“Sure, look for the Fille with the curly brown pony tail.” I said.”Where would you like me to meet you?”

“Is there a mall you like, I have some shopping I’d like to do.”

I gave him the directions and the name of the mall and hung up the phone. I was excited though I’m not sure why. I showered and put on something neutral though I was tempted to wear something more fetching. This was a man I knew, but I didn’t want to play the games other girls played, not with him. I wanted to really get to know him.

In an hour I was in the mall looking around for him. I felt a weird sensation that raised the hair on the back of my neck then I realized there was a really intense, handsome guy staring at me.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare. But you’re fun to watch.” he said and smiled.

We walked through the mall occasionally stopping to purchase some clothing item or special electronic item he needed. It was easy to talk to him. He was intelligent and respectful, interesting and considerate. He didn’t rush or complain, and when things weren’t right he managed it with aplomb.

“Where would you like to eat? I like pasta but you can you can pick the place.” he said.

We found a restaurant that had lots of variety and sat and talked and ate like we hadn’t been away from each other for the last ten years. The time sped by and we rose to leave.

“I’d like to see you again soon if that’s possible,” he said before going to his car.

“Sure, you just let me know.” I said.

“How about tomorrow, is that too soon?” he laughed nervously.

“If you don’t mind a late start, I like to sleep in on the weekend.

“That’s fine.” he said. He dropped me at my car and drove off.

The next morning when I woke, I was the Asian girl. I laughed and put on a silk top and some jeans. I waited outside instead of letting him search for the house.

“Hello china doll,” he said followed by, “breathtaking.”

I smiled and followed him to his car.

“This will be interesting, how often do you change?” he asked.

“It varies, sometime every day, sometimes once a week. It depends on what I am changing from too. I believe what you said when we were little is true, the more prominent the ancestry the longer I can maintain it.”

“So how long do you stay Asian?”

“About three days usually, if I don’t have stress; I think that affects me too. When I’m the Black girl she can only take one day of punishment. Right after her the White girl shows up and usually cleans house. Then I go back to my own self. I stay a few days sometime a few weeks.” I said.

“Then why the change, you were just yourself yesterday?”

“Yes, and I had been so for days before, maybe seeing you yesterday altered my chemistry. Do you do that to women, change their chemical balance?” I smiled.

“Not to my knowledge, but you never know. You look Asian, but behaving like you do would get you in trouble in an Asian community.”

“Sometimes, but sometimes Asian men find my Americanized values exciting.” I laughed, “And some drop me like a hot potato, saying I’m too aggressive, too forward. I tell them I’m fine with that, that I plan to marry a black man anyway. One guy even slapped me.”

“What’d you do.” he asked shocked.

“I had him arrested for assault; the precinct chief in my neighborhood has a lovely Asian wife. He didn’t like the fact that he had put his hands on me.”

“Does he like you?”

“Not like that, but I know lots of different kind of people who help me from time to time. Of course I can’t be certain he would have helped if I had been the black girl, but maybe for him it’s about a man putting his hands on a woman, not just about that woman having been Asian.”

We spent the entire day together, after that we talked every day when we couldn’t see each other and made plans for the weekend. I spent time with him no matter who I was, no matter who he was with. I met his friends and he would introduce me as his girlfriend when I was myself. I smiled even though we had not talked about whether we were an actual couple. His friends often questioned me about our relationship. Some of them even tried to hit on me, saying, “He’s always got a different girl every week, sometimes more often than that, you don’t want a guy like that, you deserve somebody better.”

“That doesn’t seem like a very good thing to say about a friend. It doesn’t seem like you have his best interest in mind.”

“I’m protecting you both while serving my own interest.” Marcus had said.

Though his friend Marcus was the biggest asshole, I knew that this was mostly about competition, and sex. They were only interesting in knowing whether we had actually slept together so they could see if their own chances would improve. Each had tried in a turn after seeing him with someone else. I told them we were getting to know each other and it was perfectly okay for him to date other girls. We weren’t mutually exclusive.

“So you can go out with other people too?”

“Yes, but I would never date his friends, if I decided I wanted to have a relationship, that might cause me some problems now wouldn’t it. Besides, do you always press up on his dates to see who he’s sleeping with?”

“No, but if I meet a girl who I think is special and he doesn’t seem to me to value her I don’t see anything wrong with trying my own luck.”

I had no way of knowing if the others were all me, and even if they weren’t we had not reached that part of our relationship. The cuter ones I aimed toward Francesca, she could choose who she thought suited her. Despite the ego competition stuff they mostly seemed like nice guys.

“Your friends all want to know if I’m sleeping with you.” I said one day at dinner.

“How many of them have hit on you?” he asked.

“So far, all of them, but anyway who’s counting?” I smiled.

“They like you, that’s all and they think I’m treating you wrong because I see so many different women. But if they knew me they would know I would never do anything to hurt you, and that in reality I only have eyes for you. I can’t help that what my eyes see is not the same every day.” he smiled back at me in a dreamy lovesick sort of way.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were getting sort of attached,” I said trying to keep things light.

“Well if I didn’t know better I’d say I was in love and you were avoiding the point. So tell me, what I should do?” he asked.

“That depends on if you can stand the effects of a gift and a curse. People change how they treat me just based on how I look, some days better some days worse. They don’t understand that though I may look different on the outside I feel the same way they do inside. That human beings are not different because of their skin color, or ethnicity, or culture, or financial status, or belief. They are all the same inside.”

“And if I said I could deal with all that.” he said.

Then I kissed him.

“I love who you are no matter what you look like. Besides what man in his right mind would turn down the opportunity to have a different woman every day and never leave home. I can’t wait to spank that pretty little black girl.” He said and laughed.

I didn’t know when our relationship would get to that point. But it was the most wonderful thing to know that when it did no matter what I was when I woke, he would always love who I am.

Girl Chameleon © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

Ponds

succubus_by_arxfatal-d5snzv8

People like to believe they have depth like the ocean. They’d do well if they could be consistent like a river, or natural and clean like a stream, or bubbly and pleasant like a babbling brook. But most are like ponds, cloudy at the bottom, murky, not much depth, stagnant, predictable. You could be certain that unfavorable things were living at the bottom, or worse that they were hiding something.

On a daily basis I investigated people who were like this in my work, shallow, inconsiderate, inconsistent, with a potential to be ruthless or dangerous. Oh, my work is nothing glamorous, I’m not a paranormal investigator, or a detective; mostly I investigate the behaviors of people who care for elderly and children. On a daily basis I have the misfortune of coming in contact with some of the most awful individuals living among what is considered to be civilized society. Shit some of them weren’t even a pond more like a puddle, with a grease slick on the surface, and nasty stuff on the bottom you wouldn’t even want to get on your nice work shoes.

On one occasion I found myself wallowing in the shallows of what might have been the remains of golden pond, some cranky rich bastard who hated everything and everybody. Reports had said he locked his mother in a dark closet, and denied her food for days. He was verbally abusive to everyone within hearing, and I had been told that if one stepped within reach he was as likely to be physically abusive. He had been allowed to be this way two-thirds of his life, and now that he was in his dotage, he was not likely to change.

His mother was eighty-eight, a quiet southern raised woman who had neither directed nor contradicted his upbringing. She had been a beautiful talented graceful debutante, with qualities that two-thirds of all woman would admire even if they didn’t have the balls to desire them. She had not gone away to school when it was suggested, rather married the first big wallet that proposed to her, and began providing heirs to his fortune.

She was forced to raise her children in a particular manner, and she accepted it the same way she had accepted her own. That was fine until she was a victim of his childhood beliefs. In his world infirmity meant weakness, and catering to one meant vulnerability. He was not going to fall for that ever.

But in my work I had met worse than him, and it was not likely that he had ever had the pleasure of company like mine. I was far older than his mother, though I had ceased to age a long time ago when the Americas had become a pit of living cesspools. I didn’t need to hunt to keep my beauty; my rivers were fed by pools of inequity. On a good month, I fed often enough to keep my beauty for a century, on a bad one I could still last for years.

Humans had forgotten that I even existed. Nothing more horrifying than themselves could possibly inhabit the earth; at least that is their belief. How arrogant of them to think that they were at the top of the food chain.

I approached the house without hesitation. On this day I found his mother sitting on the veranda. She was smiling and sipping tea. As I approached her she seemed to be waving and beckoning to me.

“Have you come to have tea with me?” She asked.

“No, but I will sit with you for a moment if I may.” I said.

“Of course,” she answered and went back to sipping.

“How often does your son lock you in with no food,” I whispered.

She glanced around and whispered, “When I am upset, or having a hard time. He seems to believe punishing me for being weak will make me stronger.” she giggled a little, but there was a passing sorrow in her eyes. “He is not the person I thought he would grow up to be. His brothers and sisters live in fear of him and as long as he lives I will never be able to do anything for them.”

“As long as he lives you say. I can help you with that.” I said quietly.

“But, I thought you were the lady from the agency? They said they would be sending you. What can you do?” she asked.

“I am that lady, but I can also help you. I have helped lots of people with difficulties like these but you must promise me that no matter what you hear inside you must stay out here and do not look. You promise?” I said.

“Yes, I promise.”

As I enter the house the son approached me.

“Who the fuck are you and what do you want?” he bellowed.

“I wanted you to stop torturing you poor mother, but now I just want to drain you of your life force and put an end to your terrorizing.” I said.

He laughed, “You ain’t got it in you to stop me. I’ve seen shit like you before.”

“Really,” I said, “If that were true you would not be here, and I would not need to intervene on your family’s behalf so that they could live and prosper. I plan to give them everything you have.”

“Over my dead body!” he laughed sarcastically.

“Suit yourself.” I said calmly.

He sprinkled me with holy water, and dangled wolf’s bane at me. The motherfucker even had the nerve to flash his crucifix.

It was my turn to laugh, “I’m not a goddamn vampire you asshole, you don’t even have the good sense to know who’s eating you!” I yelled.

“And I don’t give a fuck!” he screamed, “Do you best!”

He brandished a walking cane and approached me with a loaded pistol.

“Very well,” I said.

Then I drained him, and left his nasty residue exposed to the open air so it could disintegrate and be swept away.

As I departed I spoke to his mother, “Don’t fret or regret, some bodies of water are destined to flow into the sea and others simply serve their purpose for a time and dry up. You have a family to see to.”

I touched her aged hand and life flowed into it. She wouldn’t be like me, but she would live long enough to see her family prosper.

I walked down the driveway to my car and checked my phone messages to see where I would be wading next.

Ponds © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

 

The Hook up

towing-sylmar

 

I woke up at the wheel. It took a few minutes to realize I couldn’t move. I was dazed and afraid. I looked into the rear view mirror and could see my body leaned limply against the window. I was alarmed. I didn’t feel dead, but how else could I explain being able to see myself lying in the back seat, and how in the world did dead feel anyway.

I wasn’t a bad driver, and always took extra care to make certain I was cautious when I was behind the wheel. A handsome gentleman approached the car from the emergency vehicle. The police had blocked off the freeway and had flares marking the scene to redirect the traffic. He stood looking in the window and I smiled at him. He looked grimly through the back window.

“She sure was pretty,” he said.

I began to cry. I had to be dead. But how had it happened, how could it have happened without me knowing?

They opened the back door to the car. My body tumbled forward. The man from the emergency vehicle gently caught me, and laid me back on a stretcher on the side of the road. I watch as they lifted it. The jolt as they raised it shook my body.

I woke at the steering wheel. My car was still moving about fifty five miles per hour. I slowed down and pulled over to the side. A few moments later an emergency vehicle pulled up to the car. When the driver approached the car the hairs on my neck rose. I smiled at him through the window. He smiled back. I rolled the window down.

“Can I help you with something? He asked.

“You already have,” I said, “And thank you, if you don’t mind can you escort me from the freeway, I’m very tired and don’t need to be behind the wheel. I didn’t realize I was as tired as I am, and I certainly don’t want to cause an accident.”

He hooked my car up an escorted me to the cab of his truck.

I looked back and saw the admiring look on his face.

“You sure are pretty, would it be okay if I called you sometime?” he asked.

I figured it was the least I could do since he had saved my life.

The Hook up © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

 

 

The Nook

nook

 

It was a tiny space, barely big enough to hold my attention and yet I went there every day to find solace, comfort in its meager offerings. Some might find it strange to be able to find such pleasure in such a small area, a tiny little tucked away nook, but each day I was able to find there the solution to my roller coaster ride of daily interactions.

Some days it offered warmth, bathing me in a soft snugly succor that rescued me from the horrors of the day. I luxuriated in the calm sensuous ambiance it was able to produce, and allowed it to manifest itself in my spirit.

Other days it was a place filled with energy. It revived me and boosted my spirits. During these times I was always able to push through and approach pending projects and possible obstacles with enthusiasm, optimism, and vigor.

Sometimes when I felt down, I could go there to rebuild myself. Going daily I knew that sooner or later I would be faced with one day finding nothing there and yet I continued to return everyday to enjoy it’s respite while the offerings lasted. I reveled in the joy, the peace, the comfort.

Then one evening, after a hard day I had left my job, dropped all of my daily burdens, and come to this place to rejuvenate and rebuild my shattered spirit only to discover that everything was gone. I stood there with the door open, staring blankly into each corner wondering what to do. The tiny nook that had been my savior was now empty.

I placed my hands inside my pockets and turned them out. Payday was awhile away. I did not have the means to go elsewhere. I closed the door and pouted.

An empty cupboard is a sad and lonely place.

The Nook © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

 

Cryptic

elemental_by_vexx3-d5inzqy paranormal-2

“Walter Abrams, I am placing you under arrest for the illegal and immoral use of malefic magic which has led to the death of one individual, the zombification of at least four others, kidnapping, torture and extortion.”

He laughed. A scary sound, part bark, part howl, a sound of pure sinister glee. It went on for a quite a while. Granted, I was still being held by his zombie minions, without a gun or any other of my tools, but there was no reason to be disrespectful.

“Mr. Engram, may I call you Clifford? I think you are confused as to ‘whose on top’ at the moment. To be fair, my knowledge of your history indicates you don’t take well to authority figures.” He was looking at my amulet, touching the Phoenix stone with caressing motions.

“So you understand what I will need from you next, don’t you Clifford?” He reaches behind his back and brings out a ceremonial dagger. He gestures to one of his other robed figures, this one with a giant hart on his robes to take his place at the dais holding the amulet. I was starting to sweat uncomfortably as I suspected what the next step in this unfortunate ritual was going to be.

His pace toward me reminded me of a cat stalking a mouse. A sensual slink as his eyes lit up with madness. His zombies pulled my arms wide open and the two others ripped open my shirt. The clatter of the buttons bouncing everywhere echo around the chamber. No understanding of good fashion.

I strain myself trying to pull away from the undead duo. I am not weak. These guys were probably out of my weight class when they were alive, but dead, they are in a whole other league. Okay, plan B. “Walt, can I call you Walt? You know there is more to my amulet than being a lens for your god blob, right?”

He stopped. Good. Nothing like a lust for power to make a megalomaniac pause. “Do tell, Clifford.”

“It’s a Phoenix stone.”

“And?”

“With an honest to Phoenix within. Using the Phoenix you would be able to channel the power of the God-blob into yourself and control it with the necklace.” Sincerity sells it. If he knew the right incantations he truly could bind the power of the god.

“Go on.”

“Well, wouldn’t that be better than trying to raise some snotty nosed kid until he would be old enough to tap the power of the god himself. Right now, all the god can do in him is sleep until he reaches magical maturity. In the meantime, you’ll have to cater to him and listen to him tell you what to do. Walt, does that sound like a job for you?”

He gives me a curious look and then stops to ponder it for a moment. “As far as the raising, I would not have to be bothered. The woman, she is a governess, once properly conditioned… would have those responsibilities. The Guild would train him in the ways of magic. But what you say is true. I could harness the power of the god myself.”

Then he turns to me and gives me a look, you know the one. The ‘I want this but I can’t trust you look’. His next query seals the deal. “Why didn’t you do this yourself? You could have been a god and you choose to hunt for charlatans for a living, under the heel of petty bureaucrats, no less? I find it a little difficult to believe.”

Look convincing…”Yes, I could have done this myself, but I am already cursed. I am fated to be forsaken by all gods and when I die no god would have me. The necklace, a gift from an aunt is just a tool to find magical artifacts, nothing more. Look at me through the device, you will see my death-shroud around me.”

Doubt plagues him. He walks over to me and slashes my chest with his knife. Three cuts, lacerations which will require stitches and painful as hell, yet not fatal. He is going to complete his own ritual. Damn. I thought I had convinced him. He turns and walks back to the dais. Placing his eye to the stone, he Looks at me. He gasps. “Death walks with you.”

I make my move. “Phoenix, ego dimittam te. Convivium, invaluerit ut nostri pactum demandis.” The amulet glows for a moment as my blood touches it.

“No!” He threw the amulet to Brother Hart as it roars to fiery life. Brother Hart is instantly consumed by the red and blue flames, and Abrams fell back screaming. His robes burst into flames, the skin on his face catching fire in the light of the Phoenix. The Phoenix looks more like an angel on fire than a bird.

The other brothers turn and begin chanting and incantations. The words die on their lips as each bursts into flame. I walk over to the Phoenix, who dims its light as I approach. “As per our pact, I have feasted. Only one of your foes survived because he did not take arms against me. You have kept your agreement.”

“Will you stay?”

“Ours is not a compulsion, but a choice. You met the pact agreements and I have feasted. I am content. What of the god?”

“I’ll handle it.”

“Can you do one more thing for me?”

“For such a repast as this, I am still in your debt.”

“There are still zombies within the hallowed grounds of this cemetery. Can you draw their Fire to you, ending their unlife?”

“Of course. I await our next meal together, Ingram.”

“I told you, I don’t use that name any more.”

“It is the name I am bound to, it is the name I serve. You are Ing. You bring the peace of the grave. I serve. It is our fate.”

“I hate you.”

“As it should be. Farewell, Ingram.”