Some free fic for you …

This is the first chapter of a story in process. It’s an urban fantasy that will get dark and weird – would you expect anything else? – starring an asexual female lead, and several weirdoes to come. As per usual, there is no title as of yet.

**

It was bad enough that the goblin was using a shitty time freeze spell that was unraveling by the second. He was also tripping balls on bathtub meth, which was the icing on a shit cake.

Rain always found it odd walking into a place where a spell was affecting everyone but her – and the goblin this time as well. She knew she should be grateful, seeing people frozen in mid-motion, the air around them thick like syrup. But it always reminded her how different she was, and how fun the world might be if she could throw around spells willy nilly. But even bargain basement magic like this could be rendered incredibly dangerous in her hands. As her adopted mother always reminded her, she was an accident waiting to happen.

The goblin was pacing back and forth in front of the teller’s windows, pulling at the shaggy clumps of hair on his lumpy head. She could see through the simple glamours most non-human beings wore to pass in human society, and this goblin was very typical of the breed. A sort of gray-green of moldy bread, with long arms that had a tendency to drag on the ground when they walked. He had the face of a giant toad, save for sunken eyes that looked more human than amphibian, although they had a severe lack of hair, save for strands on their head that looked like weeds. This one was bleeding slightly from its thin lips, but she could see that he was biting them. The meth, probably. She could smell it coming out of his pores; it gave him the aroma of a tire fire. “Okay, slappy, why don’t you brief me on the big plan here, huh?”

The goblin barely looked at her, and kept trying to pace a rut in the floor. “Piss off. This is my gig,” he muttered.

“Did you forget a time freeze would affect the objects in the room too, so you’d be unable to manipulate them? Like, say, open a cash drawer?” Yes, basic laws of thermodynamics sometimes applied to magic, which was kind of wild. But an object at rest would stay at rest, unless you brought it into the counter spell with you. “Come on, guy, you hafta know time freeze spells are a fucking rip off. It’s already coming apart.”

He finally stopped and looked at her. “It’s what?”

Oh, right. She forgot that not every supernatural being could pick up on what she could. Besides, the meth was probably fucking up his senses. Human drugs either didn’t work on supernaturals, or worked on them twice as hard. Considering his twitchy state, she guessed meth for him was the latter. “It’s coming undone. You have maybe two minutes before time resumes, and you’re standing in front of all these people, pacing like a lunatic.”

The goblin looked at the frozen people, like he could see time thawing around them like a chunk of butter in the microwave, but clearly he didn’t see it, or he’d have looked up, where time was slowly resuming first. She could see the edges of frozen time, evaporating like steam. “You’re lying,” he snapped.

She scoffed. “Why the fuck would I lie, dude? I’d actually like to see that show. What do you think happens when the guard shoots you and your blood splatters green?”

The goblin scowled, and turned its jittery attention on her. “Oh, I get it. I bet you work with that bitch witch, right? I freeze time, but you grab the cash.” It started stalking towards her, lips twitching, revealing nubby yellow teeth more accustomed to splintering bones than anything else.

She pressed the palm of her hand on the right, and four slender silver claws sprung from the glove she was wearing. She held it up, and the goblin stopped. “I hear goblins hate silver. Is that true?”

“You know it is, witch.”

Silver alone could not kill the lower orders of supernatural creatures, but it stung them all like molten metal. It was the equivalent of dipping someone’s freshly cut finger in a salt and vinegar mixture, and holding it there until it burst into flame. But she was more than capable of killing this goddamn bastard, if he wanted to go there.

It must have showed on her face, because the goblin let out a grunt of disgust and took a step back. “I need money.”

“Go back to the witch who sold you this janky ass spell and demand your money back,” she told him.

The goblin muttered some cursewords at her as he bent down and picked up the brass button that was apparently the spell’s anchor. He kept cussing as he stomped out of the bank, and the rest of the spell collapsed after him, until time snapped back into place. There was an actual noise, sort of like a muted pop, and then time and people started moving again. Some saw her out of the corner of their eye and jumped, as to them she must have suddenly appeared. To them, time was one continuous line, with no stop. Oh, to be a regular human and be unaware of all this shit. It would be nice, although, if she seriously considered it, she had to admit it was probably closer to a nightmare. Never knowing you were being hunted by about a third of the people around you? Ignorance was bliss, up until it killed you.

She walked out of the bank, ignoring the handful of bewildered stares she got. It was neither the first or the last time that was going to happen. Rain could have trailed the goblin, see where he was going, but really she didn’t care. She had no business policing the supernaturals really, she was a free agent, but she kind of hated the thought of them getting exposed because of a careless, meth addicted goblin. It would be a one-two punch of stupid and embarrassing. If they were going to be exposed, at least there could be some measure of dignity.

She walked a couple of blocks, cutting through an alley or two, until she came to the Screaming Eagle, the colorfully named supernatural bar.

For one thing, it was hidden by a very light glamour, so a human would never see it and accidentally stumble in. Secondly, only a person with supernatural blood could pass through the doorway, a complication that seemed redundant, but it was always best to double up on wards. What if one failed? The first thing she learned was always have a plan B, and a plan C through G if you could at all manage it. Nothing ever went as planned, and things often went wrong so weirdly, you had to be ready for anything. Which was impossible, but you still had to try.

The interior was just like a human bar: dark, with a curved wooden bar on one side and shadowy booths and tables on the other side of the room. There was a pool table and a jukebox, but no TV, as no one came here to watch TV. They came here to forget the human world, and drink until the abyss claimed them.

This place also had her favorite drink ever, named the Hell Cooler. It was essentially a crushed ice slushy drink that you might pick up at a convenience store, bright colors and overly sweet to boot. But it had the distinction of coming with either tequila or vodka (Mexican Hell or Russian Hell, respectively). The bar also changed up the flavors, meaning you could get a different flavor every day if you wanted, but only two were available at any given time. The chalkboard on top of the bar told you the flavors for the night. Tonight it was apparently tropical – which meant mango/peach – and cherry cordial – which meant really artificial cherry flavor that people liked for some reason.

As she took a stool at the end of the bar, and the green skinned, shirtless demonoid bartender drifted over to her, she told him she wanted a tropical Russian Hell. She’d never developed a taste for tequila or fake cherry.

He wasn’t bad to look at, even though she wasn’t into guys. He said his name was Dovan, which she was sure wasn’t a name, but hell, everybody had to have their own truths, right? Maybe he felt like a Dovan. Who was she to tell him he couldn’t be? Or that technically he was supposed to have his shirt on? As long as he kept the drinks coming and never hit on her, he could live whatever life he wanted.

The drink was an almost neon orange color, in a plastic mason jar mug, with a crazy straw sticking out of it, to emphasize both how ridiculous the drink was, and how silly the drinker was. Which didn’t bother her at all, because they were fucking delicious, and they could get you into that nice stage of drunkenness, where you were neither really intoxicated or really sober. You just felt vaguely warm and better able to cope.

She was about half way into that feeling, using judicious sips to avoid brain freeze, when a demonoid in a long dark coat came into the bar. There were a few people here, mainly dedicated drinkers who rarely left, but thebar became instantly tense. The woman, tall and angular and wearing the bisected triangle insignia of the Night Watch, the supernatural equivalent of police, scanned the room with hawkish gold eyes before settling on her. Rain’s stomach did a slow barrel roll as she came towards her, and she began frantically searching her mind for any crimes she may have committed lately. There was that thing a couple weeks ago, but … nah. If they’d known she’d done that, they’d have arrested her sooner.

The woman was a light gray, the color of river stones, and her hair was a possibly artificial green, piled up on her head in a very messy bun. She was pretty in a severe way, if you went for that sort of thing. As she came up to Rain, she flashed her brass badge before tucking it in her coat pocket. “Are you Rain Vasquez?” she asked. It almost wasn’t a question. Clearly someone had told her what to look for.

She considered denying it for a few seconds, but what was the point of that? She knew who she was. “Yes?”

“I need you to accompany me down to the station,” she said.

“Why? Am I under arrest?”

“For drinking that, you should be,” she replied, wrinkling her nose at Rain’s garishly orange beverage. “But no, your name has come up in an open case.”

Rain disliked how evasive she was being. “”What kind of open case, and who the hell are you?”

“Oh, sorry, I’m Detective Omarahu, and it’s a … curious case best not discussed in public.”

Curious could mean many things coming from a detective, but absolutely nothing good. “Is there a corpse?”

Omarahu blinked rapidly, and Rain took that as surprise. “Yes. How did you know?”

Great. Who did she kill this time?

**

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