Just a reminder, this is a first draft in public. It’s rough and ugly, but it’s me telling myself (and you) the story. It’s me sitting down every week and typing out a scene. The magic happens in editing and revising. Thanks for reading along!
Lights flared illuminating the steps and a portion of the basement. The floor was dirt and a waft of disused, damp air made Jackie’s nostrils flare. The smell reminded her a bit of Diddle’s growing room back on Mason. She felt a pang of unexpected homesickness at the memory.
“Do you want me to go first?” she asked Sharna.
The Mage stood in the doorway. After a quick look at the bit of basement visible, she stepped back and pointed at Edgard “No. He goes first.”
“Fair enough.” Jackie pressed herself against the cold wall to let the Fathers in their Edgard form pass her on the narrow stairs. She resisted the urge to trip him or kick him. This creature was the cause of Feor’s grief, Grimsby’s madness, and Seven’s desperation.
“The children are dying. You let babies die.” Her words came out followed closely by hot tears. “I’m not fooled by the suit and suave.” She let the tears fall, not caring what he thought of them.
Edgard turned to her, his eyes bright and his lips tight. “Don’t forget the Culling,” he whispered. “You can’t imagine the deaths I’ve seen. Caused. It is what I create.”
Time seemed to hover motionless around them as Jackie and Edgard stared at each other. Jackie dropped her eyes first. “Let’s get this done. The sooner you two solve your problems, the sooner I can go home.”
“Hmm, yes. Home. How did you get here, again?” asked Edgard. His shoes flashed as he walked down the stairs. Jackie let him get two steps ahead before following. Sharna came last.
“Mage, remember?” answered Sharna.
“Yes. I don’t quite know the boundaries of Mage. Is that like a Mother, I wonder? Did you simply think yourself here? I find it odd the Mothers would show you the way, and not come themselves.” He stepped into the shadows, and Jackie shouted a curse and turned to shove Sharna hard before throwing her body over her friend. Sharna’s shoulders trembled under her.
The first impact knocked the breath from Jackie’s lungs, but she held firm. It was only breath. Sharna was her blood. The second volley made her ears pop and she tumbled away from Sharna with the violence of the blast. The fight wasn’t what she’d expected. Where are the warning words and villainous monologues, she wondered as her head struck the wall.
Her last sight was Sharna standing with both arms stretched out as if she were about to take flight. And then…she did. Jackie had a moment of joy at imagining Edgard’s smug face being struck with Sharna’s full fury, and then she let the darkness take her.
(See you next Saturday!)