Untold Stories is a chance for me to do a little bit of head-clearing, and a chance for you to take a look inside my writer’s notebook. This series will feature the first scene or chapter from a story that I haven’t finished writing … and may never complete. It’s a teaser, a chance for me to see how a story feels, to investigate a little bit of its potential.
I’d love to hear what you have to say about Dead Man Walking. If the feedback is good, I might turn this into an entire novella, maybe in time for Halloween.
I’m wearing blue jeans and my leather jacket. It isn’t cold, the leather just feels a bit like armor, and I’m going to need all the help I can get.
My feet make a splish-splash noise as I run through the night. It isn’t raining, not really, but mist is hanging in the air and water is covering the ground. The moon is full. I used to love nights like this.
I pull the blade out of my jacket. It’s just a cheap piece of crap I bought on line, the kind of thing the leader of a high school metal band would buy to keep on his dresser, but the sigils carved into the cheap steel make it something special. The blade can cut through damn near anything, and it can’t be broken. The sheath has the same markings, which is why the blade doesn’t slice through.
I crouch down and start cutting the chain link fence. The blade goes through the metal like it isn’t even there. You could cut off your own hand with this thing and not realize it until you tried to open a can of beer. The fence goes tink tink tink as I move the blade in a big arc, cutting a semi-circle big enough to step through. I slid the blade back into its sheath and pull the shotgun out of the duffle bag thrown over my shoulder.
There’s nothing magic about the gun. It doesn’t shoot dragon’s breath, and the shells aren’t loaded with twice-blessed silver or anything like that. It’s just a gun, a mean, nasty gun with most of the barrel cut off. A hundred dollars at Wal Mart, another hundred dollars worth of ammunition, and ten dollars for the hacksaw.
Just a gun, but honestly, it’s more powerful than eight out of ten spells we ever worked. That’s the real secret behind magic, kids … most of it doesn’t work for shit. It takes fucking forever to get even your first, most basic spell right, and then what? You can draw a sigill and whisper a Word of Power and maybe, maybe light the candles on top of a kid’s birthday cake. I’d wasted the last five years dicking around with curses and hexes and invocations, and I didn’t have jack to show for it. The blade was neat, but I wasn’t exactly going to take over the world with it, and everything else I could do was a parlor trick.
I’ve got a handgun strapped to my side, and a revolver strapped to my ankle. It isn’t enough. All the guns in the world aren’t enough.
I run through rows of shipping containers. There are sodium lights every twenty-five feet, and it’s like I’m sprinting through a strobe light: the blue-white of the moon, then shadow, then yellow electric light, then blue-white again. I’m breathing heavy. Out of shape. Jessica was always telling me I needed to exercise more.
Jessica. I stop and lean up against one of the shipping crates, squeeze my eyes shut hard, and grind my teeth. It was my fault she was caught up in all of this.