short fiction

Episode 30 – Force of Arms (The Transformation)

Previous episodes are here.

1.

A surge of electricity had fried everything, cameras and alarms before someone had bust through the door, the locks wrenched like taffy and the cabinets torn open.

 

A pair of combat revolvers.Four boxes of ammunition.

 

Pump action shotguns. A bandolier. Eighteen shells.

 

They had taken the good knives. The fixed blade models and sheaths.

 

What scared the police and Frank, the owner, was what were these people going to do. Frank was glad the cameras were out because he wasn’t sure he could look at whoever it was and be able to sleep again.

 

2.

 

The Editor took off her spectacles and rubbed her eyes. She was drunk with exhaustion, sat in the neat, back bedroom of the Golem’s house. There were multiple forces at work here, two pairs in proximity whilst another moved towards them.

 

There were bodies around all of them. She saw the information as glowing flecks of red coal scattered like ashes next to the soft flames of their presence. She saw the light of the monsters and the people burned by contact with them. The Golem had arranged for men to connect direct surveillance of the sites, and with a phone call, had police reports available of the pertinent events.

 

The slaughter in the woods.

 

A robbery which ended in an assault by something described as a gigantic wolf or bear.

 

Families brutalised in their homes. Strangulation or blunt force trauma, conducted over a short, vicious space of time.

 

The Editor had asked for a moment and the Golem had one of his men take her to the room. She had heard his footsteps echo down the hall and laid down on the bed.

 

The bedroom smelled of fresh polish and citrus, old oak furniture polished until it shone. She sighed as she laid down.

 

A sleeper agent in another realm, sent into a place which had appalled and enthralled her. The Editor had taken ill, forced to contemplate whether it was the world killing her, or a rejection of the woman she had been before this. She met someone strong with her, did not sit and suffocate her, stayed over but accepted the jagged rhythms of her work and the need for space. She missed him, hating the lies but knowing the cost of candour with him. In bed, at night, she’d sleep with her head on his shoulder, tucked into his arm after they read together.

 

She ached to tell him about all the additional Hemingway work she knew. The poetry of Hypatia, a female version of Lovecraft which was taught in schools. He was happy with his world, and when he stayed over, watching her laugh and dance, she believed she could be too.

 

They would kill him if they knew about him. It led her to wonder about the life she wanted, and where.

These thoughts followed her into a thin doze before there was the clatter of alarmed activity and she was on her feet, reaching for her spectacles and opening the door.

 

3.

 

Olivia practiced the flex of transformation in the mirror, Amaro’s touch had opened her to an intimacy of flesh which lent itself to a new art.

 

Cosmetics. She had tightened the flesh along her jawline and given her lips a sensual flushness. Her hair was thicker and longer, and she knew it would lead to hunger pangs but she wanted the experience.  

 

Her work was her priority, she told herself. These abilities were signing bonuses and when she watched Amaro enter the room, she smiled at him in the mirror.

 

‘Are you ready?’ he said.

 

She stood up and smoothed down the front of her cream blouse. The glasses were tucked into the front pocket as she turned and smiled.

 

‘I will head out now and be at their offices by morning.’ she said.

 

He smiled and walked towards her with open arms.

 

‘You’re following the money?’ he said.

 

She nodded and slipped her arms around his lean waist. Amaro was centuries old but his flesh was warm and lean as he held her.

 

‘My good girl. Do me proud.’

 

He moved back and looked to the door as she went through. An unpleasant splash of dismissal hit her on the cheek as she went out to the waiting car. She reminded herself such spasms of feeling were unwise here, despite the gifts of her new existence.

 

They were monsters.

 

4.

 

Kelly stroked the fur along his muzzle. His eyes were closed, but he was breathing in deep, even bursts as his chest rose and fell.

 

‘I need you to wake up, John.’ she said.

 

She shook him, wondering what she had done here, a single thought forged into a single command, fired from her head like an insult she couldn’t take back. There was a phrase when you coined the perfect comeback after being insulted, in French, l’esprit de l’escalier and it had felt like delivering one of those before the event.

 

Kelly fought the panic as she heard screams from the house behind her. They had found the boy.

 

Kelly focused on reading John. She saw the sluggish flow of neurons, the pneumatic pump of his circulatory system and analysed it as an engineering problem. Her fingers knotted in his fur and she pushed a command into him, felt the power of the word flow down into him as it bloomed inside him. A perfect, qlippothic thought which was a phrase she never thought of before, but it fitted as she plucked it from the massive storm of knowledge within herself. Kelly had used it to hurt people, but within her was the capacity to help. To heal.

 

He opened his eyes and sniffed the air.

 

Kelly put her hands to her face as she watched him get to his paws by degrees.

 

He pushed his muzzle against her belly, gave a soft butt into her stomach before he turned and padded away into the shadows of the garden. She walked with him, trembling with anticipation at his reaction when he became a man again.

 

She had hurt him and been hurt in turn. Kelly followed him, felt the chill of night bite into her skin as they moved back to the grounds. She had climbed the wall with ease before, but now, exhausted and aching, it looked impassable. John barked and lowered his massive shoulders to the ground as she looked at him.

 

Kelly got it as she climbed onto his back, the raw power of his form pulsing through his bones and muscles with each breath as she dug her fingers into his fur. He stood up, bore her weight without effort as he turned away from the wall to gain some ground. She gripped onto him and closed her eyes as he charged the wall, moving from a trot to a sprint which ended when he pushed off his back legs and leapt into the air. John was the only solid thing beneath her as they left the ground and she fought the dizzying nausea of being airborne before they landed on the ground.

 

Kelly opened her eyes but kept her fingers dug into his fur as he ran towards the facility.

 

5.

 

Adam racked a round into the shotgun as he walked out of the shadows, his hair hung in his face as blue sparks of electricity flashed between his gritted teeth. His skin had become translucent and yellow, visible patterns of veins and musculature in motion with each step he took towards his target.

 

He looked at the house and smiled at the chance to act according to his purpose. A line from the one of the books he had used to educate himself, back when he was at war with his creator.

 

“Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.”

 

Adam climbed the wall with ease as he sent his consciousness into the electrical grid of the property, overloading it with the force of his will. He shut down the lights and power. There were two of them here, and they had force of arms to protect them.

 

He lifted the shotgun to his shoulder and watched the movement through the windows.

 

‘Come out and face me.’ he said.

 

His voice was a sonorous, booming thing which shook the glass in their frames.

 

The metallic rasp of weapons being loaded came to him and he smiled as he walked across the lawn.

 

A door swung open and the muzzle flash drew his attention as the round whipped past his head. He squeezed the trigger and the shotgun boomed as he walked. He heard the thump of a body hitting the floor and he pumped another round without thinking.

 

Another volley of rounds came through the dark, one took the meat of his right cheek in a spray of blood and skin whilst one buried itself in his shoulder but he fired and heard someone cry out. He shouldered the shotgun and drew the revolvers, brushed his thumbs over the hammers, having tooled them for a lighter action.

 

Webs of light danced across his ruined cheek, knitted the flesh together with an ugly economy as he saw a shape through the gloom and fired at it.

 

The bullet to his forehead stopped him, like holding a sneeze and a sick throb of pain went through him as black blood squirted from his nose. He lifted both revolvers and fired, watched the man’s head burst apart before he moved into the house.

 

Adam brushed the hair from his face as he watched the men point their weapons down the hall at him. He snarled at him, awash with hate and pain, all of it harnessed to his will.

 

‘Bring them to me.’ he said.

 

They fired at him, enough to bring him to his knees but he got up and fired both guns as he walked.

 

A spike of sensation charged through him, as they shot the flesh from his bones but his shots never missed, even when a bullet took out his jaw and it hung from his face before a corona of electricity glued it back on and two men were dead before he smiled again. He slipped the revolvers back into the shoulders and brought up the shotgun, cutting a path with the force of his violence.

 

There was a flickering light past the men, visible through the air, thick with smoke and bullets as he kept firing.

 

A fire, waiting to burn him.

 

6.

 

She slipped the contact lens in, calm despite the roar of gunfire and the screams of dying men. The Editor brought up a quantum keyboard and started to write a better version of events than this was turning out to be.

 

He had found them instead, and she focused on crafting the right opening line as the Golem walked out of the room, smoke rising from his skin as he told her to get working. She could work to a deadline, she thought.

 

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