Act 1: Chapter 6, Part 7

Posted on September 17, 2017

In Which Evan Notices Trouble

Angie. First Day of School. No Time for Panic.

“What are you doing?” Angie asked Ryan, apprehensive.

“Well, first I’m texting Evan,” Ryan replied, texting as he spoke. “Then, since I don’t expect that to accomplish anything, I’m calling Chris,” he continued, and put the phone up to his ear as he left the room. Angie followed him, closing the door behind her.

Faintly, Angie could hear the ring. Then a muffled voice after the second ring. “Hi,” Ryan said in response. “Glad you picked up. What’re you up to?”

A response which she couldn’t make out. “Okay,” Ryan said, “Can you go out after all?”

A one word response. Probably ‘Why?’ Ryan suppressed a sigh. “This is going to sound crazy, because it absolutely is. It is possible that Evan has decided to go out and try and hunt a Beast by himself. At the very least, he’s out after curfew for some reason.”

A brief response, then Ryan said, “No, just… with just his revolver. A three-fifty-seven magnum, I suspect.”

Chris voiced a question, and in response Ryan said, “No, of course he’s not licensed for that. He has one for a team of at least four gunners, or to go out as fire support for a properly licensed Light Bearer or magician. No one is licensed to solo hunt with any gun, let alone a revolver.”

This one sided conversation was driving Angie crazy. Ryan responded to Chris again, “I wouldn’t be bothering you if there wasn’t something you could do about it. I’m going to text you a link. It’s safe for your phone, I promise. It should connect you to the GPS on Evan’s phone and show you where he is on Googol Maps.” He paused, not long enough for Chris to actually respond, then said, “Please tell me you have Googol Maps on your phone and that you don’t just use Macintosh’s garbage map app.”

Chris’s response came with audible laughter, and Ryan replied, “Good. And before you ask, yes, it’s totally illegal, and if I used it on the wrong person and, and this is unlikely, got caught, I’d be in some real hot water. No one is going to know or care about this except us, though.”

Chris provided a short response, and Ryan shook his head while he said, “It would take me an hour just to scratch the surface of an answer to that, and I’ve known you for the length of one lunch period, so I’m maybe going to hold off on that conversation. Let’s just acknowledge he’s doing this stupid thing right now and make sure he doesn’t get himself killed doing it, and that I’ll owe you big time for your help. For all he probably won’t run into a Beast by himself without any way to draw one beyond his simple presence…” Ryan paused for a moment, then finished the thought. “If he does, he’s probably dead.”

Chris responded one more time. “Yeah,” Ryan said. “Thank you. For serious. Keep us updated, if you can.” With that, he ended the call.

Cali had watched Ryan, her face expressionless, for the length of the conversation. Now she went back into the living room and flopped back onto the couch.

Angie gave Ryan a look. He raised an eyebrow back at her. She sighed, and went into the living room. “Hey,” she said to Cali, sitting down next to her on the couch and putting a hand on her knee. “You okay, kiddo?”

“Don’t call me kiddo,” Cali said, her voice as flat as her expression.

“He’s going to be alright. Chris will talk some sense into him. He’s very compelling,” Angie said, giving the younger girl a small smile.

Cali looked at her without moving her head, gave an miniscule shrug, and, still flat voiced, “Who cares. If he wants to get his ass killed, let him.” She focused back on the TV.

Angie sighed. “You don’t mean that.”

“Can we not do this?” Cali said, her voice still flat, but a little softer.

Angie gave her a sad smile. “Yeah. Okay. I don’t suppose there’s any chance your mom is home?”

Cali snorted, which said enough.

Angie sighed again. “Okay. You want us to keep you posted?”

Cali seemed to think for a minute. “Well…” she said. “If he’s dead, I suppose you better tell me. Other than that, fuck it.”

This time Ryan sighed, out in the hallway. Angie gave Cali a small nod, and left her alone. Then she went to figure out if there was anything she could do.

Evan. First Day of School. Nighttime.

Evan cut through the parklets that alternated with houses near Bridal Trails, through very dark groves indeed. His heart beat rapidly; walking through the darkness out here without an escort’s light, even with all the gaslights around, was something he’d imagined often, but not ever done. Stepping into the pools of gloom where the lamp light didn’t fall was impacting him more than he'd expected.

All wise folk fear the dark, for only the Light Bearers can cast it back.

There were few people out at this point, and he went minutes without hearing anything but his own movements, his own breath, the occasional night insect or bird, and the distant sounds of the trolleys. He wondered at his own idiocy, out in the dark like this, risking fine or worse. If he met a Beast, it would likely flee from the light, stalk him in the dark, wait until it could strike. If it didn’t, that would likely be worse for him; that would mean it was really something he couldn’t handle. He just let his feet walk, though; he didn’t turn back toward home.

At one point he saw a moving lantern or torch, some sort of flame, carried by a figure several blocks away; likely a Light Bearer out on patrol, or a militia escort on their way back to their station. He was out after curfew, so he cut away through the grove he was walking beside, turning further, back to the south-west. Nothing broke the silence that had fallen over the area as civil twilight finished darkening into the true beginning of the night.

The moon rose gibbous in the dark sky, the lights of the city washing out the bulk of the stars. As Evan walked, he studied those stars he could see, studied the moon, the throne of the Powers Above. It wasn’t that he’d never been outside at night at all before; at various times in his life there had been events keeping him, or more often them, the family as a whole, out after dark, and his father had gotten them escorts home. Certainly they’d been out after dark on their own block at times, particularly for Independance Day celebrations. So he’d had opportunities in the past for star gazing and moon watching.

It was always a thrill, though, to see those celestial objects of the night sky. Having seen them before didn’t change the fact that they--humankind--were trapped by the daylight. That the night belonged to the Beasts.

As he approached a the back of a strip mall, the silence broke. He heard a short, sharp scream. And one single pop. A small caliber gunshot. He froze.

Evan crept through the last parklet, into the thin strip of concrete betwixt it and the stripmall. He froze again, holding his breath. Echoing strangely, he could hear… something. Some rustling… ripping sound. A wet noise, a tearing. He wasn’t that far from the west side of the strip, and crept that direction. Slowly, he drew his pistol, the old Smith and Wesson's wood grip worn and comforting in his hands.

He peaked around the front corner.

Out in the walk along the lane, there was something moving. A strange pale shape, on top of another darker form. The lower form was human. The one hovering over it… was very much not.