Day four of #NaNoWriMo and I’ve made wordcount. Anyway, this is a rough draft. I continue to course-correct without going back to fix the previous day’s work. Feel free to tell me what you think. Don’t worry, I have a very thick skin.
BLACK MAGIC BULLETS
An Urban Fantasy
Working as an Inhuman Resources Recruiter is no walk through the cemetery, especially when you’ve been cursed and your head is filled with stollen secrets from one of the most powerful occult groups in Boston. To survive, you might just need a few…
BLACK MAGIC BULLETS.
I have to admit, the Storeroom was a lot different than I expected. Instead of a closet filled with supplies, it turned out to be the whole lower level of the Dreadstone building.
Before we grabbed the equipment, Kenzi brought me to the Human Resources office.
The HR Generalist quickly listed my title as administrative and made my employment legal for the federal government and the state of Massachusetts. In this way, everything appeared above board and I wouldn’t have to find a way to launder the money I’d receive for services rendered.
“I passed?” I finally asked Kenzi, genuinely surprised. I hadn’t thought of asking Stone. The whole day had been one big whirlwind with little hope of returning to sanity.
“You survived,” Kenzi said. “That’s more than can be said of the previous candidates.”
That’s when I realized just how dangerous the situation in the ritual room had been. I also noticed the effects of the gas had dissipated. That was good, I didn’t need any distractions outside the ritual room.
Peal arrived for what they simply called the employment ceremony.
“I want to make this absolutely clear,” Peal said, looming over all in the tight confines of the generalist’s office.
I had a hard time concentrating. My mind kept intruding with thoughts that only a few minutes earlier I had been standing naked with this man in a pentacle, and a vengeful spirit——who almost killed me by the way——stalking around outside trying to find a way in.
I rubbed at my throat absentmindedly, it felt tight but would be sore tomorrow.
“Once you’re bound by the contract, you’re required to keep everything we do here confidential into perpetuity. If you break the deal, your life is forfeit.”
I studied Peal for a moment, his smooth almond skin, Alister Crowley haircut, which is to say he had none and powerful build which made him look more than formidable and belied his executive status and realized that I never wanted to cross this man.
I needed the job so I nodded affirmation.
Peal placed what looked like some sort of handheld device on the desk. Flicking a slider on the side of the unit, it took only a second for the device to flip open revealing two square halves. On one side, a sharp barb stood wickedly erect. On the other, a screen flickered and then came to life with a jaundiced glow. I didn’t have to wait for Peal to feed me instructions, what needed doing was painfully obvious. And I mean painful in a literal sense.
Placing my finger over the barb, I pushed down. The needle bit into my skin. My finger throbbed but I kept my countenance stoic. From this moment forth, weakness wouldn’t be abided.
Peal grabbed my thumb with one powerful hand and then rolled the digit over the display on the other side. The procedure reminded me of when I had applied for a firearms license. It’s not hyperbole to say I felt like a common criminal. I felt the same now.
Blood——my——blood, pooled on the screen, then became the shape of my thumbprint, with all its ridges and indentations, before total absorption into the device.
“Remember,” Peal warned as he scooped up and placed the device into his suit coat pocket, patting it for effect, “you are now subject to the constraints of the bargain.”
My thumb still smarting, Kenzi took me, by elevator, to the labyrinthine lower level of the Dreadstone building.
I still had no idea how we would find Dedra’s body, and what we would do with it once we had.
Hopefully, we could provide her a proper burial, affording her some closure. From what Kenzi had told me, I wasn’t too confident in achieving my desired outcome.
“Everything has to be done with an eye toward the bargain,” Kenzi said in answer to my inquiry. “This is a quid pro quo business. Dreadstone gets something and Dedra gets something. Nobody gets everything they want, or there would be no need to make the deal.”
“You’re saying we have to keep her wanting so she completes her end of the bargain?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Kenzi said. “If not, she’d have no need to stay on this plane of existence. Then where would we be?”
I didn’t like it. The whole thing seemed exploitive and cruel. I needed to wait, though. Bide my time and see how things washed. I didn’t want to be too rash too quickly. Not completing my end of the bargain could mean my death.
I followed her down a dimly lit echoey hallway past other suit-wearing denizens of the lower dark.
“How do we even find where her body is located?” I asked, my voice sounding hollow. The whole thing seemed like an exercise in futility. What did we have to go on? Her first name? How far would that get us?
“With this,” Kenzi held up an evidence bag with a torn piece of cloth protected inside.
“Where did you get that?”
“Mr. Peal pried it out of your hands after your skirmish with the entity.”
I looked at her dumbfounded. Searching every quadrant of my mind, I couldn’t remember ripping a piece off of Dedra’s rags.
“You went into fight or flight,” Kenzi said. “It’s normal not to remember the whole incident. Believe me, I know.”
I was sure she did. Yet, I didn’t really know who this woman was or the extent of her position within the company. I figured I’d learn soon enough.
Kenzi led me through a beaded entryway on the right. Inside, An Indian woman sat on a cushion in a lotus position. She wore silken robes dyed purple and trimmed in gold. Her raven hair done up with Japanese kanzashi hair sticks. The room smelled sweet of frankincense and sandalwood. The light scent spoke of quality, the kind Phantasmagoria, a shop in Amherst, produced. Asian tapestries and rugs adorned the walls and floor, giving me the image of a magic carpet dealer. Part of me wondered if Dreadstone had a fleet of flying carpets. After the day’s events, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had.
“This is Chavvi, one of our resident physic mediums,” Kenzi said as we approached. I felt uncomfortable for not knocking before entering. As far as I could tell, Kenzi held no such reservations or feelings.
“I’m——,” I began as I held out my hand.
“No don’t tell me,” Chavvi said as she rose to greet us. She clasped my hand in hers, closing her eyes. Her hand felt both cool and soft against my skin.
“I see a rosebush. Now a single rose, the stem. Thorns.”
Her eyes fluttered open.
“Am I close?”
“I’d say.” Chavvi had truly impressive abilities. Compelled against reason, I lifted her hand to my lips and gave it a kiss. “My last name is Thorne. Harrison Thorne, but my friends call me Harris.”
“This one’s a charmer, isn’t he,” Chavvi said giving a wink to Kenzi and taking back her hand.
Kenzi’s expression didn’t change. If some women were thought of as cool drinks, Kenzi was ice-water in a frosty glass. I didn’t mind that, though. Something about her frozen exterior was appealing. Perhaps she was hiding some torment under that arctic exterior, a hot pain cordoned off by a wall of ice. I’ve always been a sucker for a mystery.
“I need you to enter the Collective and find out everything you can. Names, places, dates.I’d like to take action today if possible.”
“You never ask for much, do you?” Chavvi said stifling a giggle. “Okay, come back in an hour or two. I should have something then. Do me a favor: bring your friend. I like him.”
With time to kill, Kenzi buzzed us into an oblong room painted battleship gray. Weapons both modern and archaic lined the walls and waited in cases. Tucked into each corner of the room stood heavy iron vaults I could only imagine held much of the same.
“Welcome to the armory,” Kenzi said, the upturn of her lips was the closest she had come to a smile.
“You need all this to protect yourselves from ghosts?” I asked. There was enough firepower here alone to equip a small army.
“Dreadstone is involved with a lot more than just inhuman resource recruiting,” Kenzi said, and I guess I had imagined as much. “Besides, when we go out into the field we’re not just dealing with what’s in the Collective.”
“The author Richard Connell knew that humans were the most dangerous animals on earth,. Maybe they’re the most dangerous entity in any dimension as well,” I added. Kenzi didn’t seem impressed by my factoid.
“They’re dangerous,” Kenzi said. “That’s why we prepare for the worst. You never know who you’re going to run into out in the field. And until you’re up to speed performing wizardry in the Collective, our weaponry is going to have to do double duty.”
Then she looked at me straight in the eye.
“Have you ever fired a gun before.”
“I used to go hunting with my dad,” I said.
“So, in Mass, most likely shotgun,” She said. I nodded. She was right. With the state so heavily populated, most hunting with firearms was relegated to shotgun season. Rifle rounds traveled too far to be safely fired in most areas.
“What about handguns?” She asked.
“I’ve handled them,” I said.
Kenzi retrieved a Colt 1911 from the case.
To be continued…