Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Black Ring Society: (The Underland Chronicles) Chapter 3 (edited)

Chapter Three: Family Secrets

Marcus walked down the street, collar up clenching his jacket closed, His destination was one train stop away, but he decided to walk. He hated the winter months and always wished they would leave as soon as they came. Heading again towards Tompkins Park he passed myriad of hipsters that now inhabited the area. He noted the changes in the neighborhood, the influx of people coming into Brooklyn for some kind of cultural experience only to find they had chased it away. As he entered, he paid no mind to the light footfalls that followed him, he was well aware that the homeless residence of the park had been disappearing for about a week now. The only thing he didn’t know was how those responsible came to this part of the city, or for that matter this plane of existence.

He stopped square in the middle of the park, took a look around and noted that it was vacant. “Ok, you can come out now.” Marcus grinned, under the dim lights.

The clicking growls of something other worldly responded, out of the shadows a homeless man dragged himself along as if one side of his body were paralyzed. A terrible smell of rot wafted in the breeze and his bloodshot eyes did little to hide the otherworldly influence in them. Then it spoke, a horrible rasp that sounded like locusts in the throat of a dead man. “How did you find me?”

“Are you really surprised?” Marcus smirked. “I mean it wasn’t that hard to find you, this place reeks of magic.”

“I didn’t think, that there were any real mages left, let alone up here.” It turned its head at an inhuman angle.

“I wasn’t aware there were any Kishi this far away from the ‘continent’.” Marcus crouched in a defensive position. “But enough with the banter, I have other places to be tonight.” It began to grow dark around him as the street lamps flickered weakly.

“The only place you have to be is in my bowels slowly digesting.” It rasped a sickening laugh.

Marcus clenched his fists and somewhere on the Kishi’s person was a wet breaking sound, and then it lunged at him. Its finger bones now broken out of the skin, terribly long and sharp, they would have torn Marcus in two had he been there when the Kishi landed. Marcus rolled side ways and slid behind a tree.

“Hiding mage?” The Kishi rasped out a laugh again. “I’ve been very hungry since I took this one and you’re skin will make a fine suit.”

“But I just had it cleaned, and I’m sure you’ll get it dirty.” Marcus picked up a rock and threw it at the Kishi.

The creature sliced it clean in two. “A rock honestly, do you know what I am composed of under this?” The creature darted behind the tree to attack Marcus, but he wasn’t there.

“I know what you’re composed of and I’m well aware a brain isn’t included in that make up.” Marcus leapt down from a branch planting a kick square in the Kishi’s jaw.

The monster staggered and hit the ground. It rasped something in its native tongue, a curse. “You can’t run away forever human.”

Marcus turned to face the creature as it got up and planted a roundhouse kick on the nape of its neck, followed by an elbow to its sternum. “I don’t plan on doing so.”

As soon as it hit the ground, the Kishi leapt back up, rushing Marcus, and knocking him into a patch of night. It began to thrash at him with murderous fury, laughing the whole time. After a while, it raised claws to its mouth to taste his blood and it then spit. “This is dirt.” It stood up looking around with inhuman twitches. “Where are you mage? Did you run, attempting to escape the same fate that befell your brother?” It rasped out a laugh. “His death is celebrated by my kind, just as you celebrate holidays.” “So hurry up and come out so I can send you to him.”

The Kishi never heard Marcus’ reentry rising from the shadows like a creature of the majestic deep, wrapped matte black armor. “You’re really wasting my time.” Marcus’ voice was colored with anger and now doubled as if something were speaking through him, plunging his hand into the darkness. “I’m sending you back now.”

“Hell you are.” The Kishi leapt claws first, teeth bared, but stopped suddenly. “What?”

Strands of shadow pulled at the creature’s arms and legs, it struggled to free itself but couldn’t, it began to sink. “What is this?” The creature began to flail about pathetically. “How can you control the dark?”

“I can do more than that.” His eyes widened and flashed with crimson tinted intent. The strands of night pulled at the demon every which way like hands of greedy children. Had he been new to this it would’ve been a terrifying sight, but at that moment, nothing-terrified Marcus, not even his own vicious rage.

The Kishi gargled in pain as the hands tore pieces of it into the mini gateways of night. “My kind will find you….and end you.” It’s voice grated, trying to hold on to the material world. The strands finished their job tearing the Kishi from the mortal coil back to its own corrupt existence.

“They’ll have to wait their turn.” Marcus exhaled and with that, his shadow shroud was gone. The wound of his brothers sacrifice was still fresh and he’d be damned if a base life form such as that celebrated it. He looked at his watch; it was 7:30 better, take the express to my destination. The lights flickered on, hearing the sound of approaching footsteps; he stepped into the shade of a tree and vanished.

Ebony sat at the bar sipping an apple martini, she watched the door, her eyes like a lioness on a gazelle. People walked to and fro admiring her mahogany skin and short natural hair; she wore blue painted on jeans and a black blouse. She’d often come to the Sankofa Grill or the ‘Grill’ as the neighborhoods original inhabitants called it, it was now a hang out for the new ones, looking to get a crash course in black culture. Pictures of Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, Miles Davis, Elijah Muhammad, Marcus Garvey, and a host of black leaders lined the walls, Old school hip-hop bumped in the speakers filling the area with a mood, smoother than roses on crushed velvet. She smiled between sips of her drink, he’d arrived, the brown leather jacket she got him matched well with his boots, and the fitting jeans he wore would have looked ridiculous on anyone but him. He caught sight of her and smiled, his dark brown dreads draping over his face, he sauntered toward her as if he owned the place; it probably helped that he did. Taking a seat next to her, he ordered a Cranberry juice and Ginger ale; as long as she’d known him, he’d never touched alcohol. He leaned against the bar smiling slightly at her, when they were younger she’d loved for him to smile at her, it filled her with a kind of hope that young dreamers have and she loved him for it.

He moved his hand over hers patted it and smiled a little wider. “It’s been a while.”

Yes It has she thought, though it had only been five months since they buried their grandfather. Seeing him now you wouldn’t think he was nervous earlier over the phone, but that was Marcus for you, quite calm even when it was hard. He’d always told her it ran in his family, but if it had, it was from his mother’s side because unlike her cousin, Ebony was more nervous than she’d ever been in her life. She smiled in spite of it though, staying cool on the exterior if only for her own reassurance. It’s not everyday one risks life and limb to fight, demons, and various other worldly forces, but then again most people’s families hadn’t trained them to do so. “It’s getting late, we should head down stairs.” She exhaled, but his drink had arrived.

“One moment, battling demons makes me thirsty.” He whispered raising the glass of sparkling liquid to his mouth.

“What demons, what happened?” She moved into his direct field of vision.

“There are Kishi in this city now, they’ve been eating the homeless folks in Tompkins Park and wearing them like suits.”

“Oh great, now we’ve got another thing to take care of.” She sighed. “Anyway hurry up and finish we’ve got to take to the streets, I’m not sure you’ve noticed being out of the loop and all but there is a new club that was opened up by J-Banks…”

“The rapper, yeah what about it?” Marcus put down his glass and wiped his mouth with the napkin under it.

“People have been dying there.”

Marcus almost laughed. “A night club owned by a rapper, where people get killed, I’m shocked.”

“Yeah well this’ll shock you; two people died in the V.I.P room in the past month, and counting the death’s of the regular patrons that’s four in a month and a half.”

“Okay, so?” Marcus knew his cousin had a flare for the dramatic, but thought that she delayed the point too long.

“They were all suicides.” She paused for dramatic effect. “…Now you and I both know, black clubs can get hectic, hell they can be violent.”

“I suppose one could say that going to one could be seen as form of suicide.” He let out a bitter laugh and then sighed. Marcus worried about his people sometimes. “ But yeah you’re right, it smacks of ritual?”

“ And since last I heard the age of magick changed, who knows what it’s toward or what kind it is.” Ebony sighed.

“You’ve said that before, but where’d you get it from?”

“Grandpa, he still visits me in my dreams from time to time and since Grandma taught me how to read dreams when we were little, it was easy to interpret.”

Marcus was silent, it had always seemed to him like his Grandparents loved Ebony more, and intern focused on her occult training more intensely. Then he thought when you try to divorce yourself from your family legacy I suppose that’s what’ll happen. “Ok so we’re going to attack this club?”

“No dummy.” She playfully rapped him on the head with her knuckles. “We’re going to ask around, talk to your contacts, and learn the lay of the land.”

“Well I suppose we could talk to Roger, the cops should have something on this.”

“If only.” Ebony rolled her eyes. Roger Drake was Marcus’ best friend and Ebony’s ex. When the three of them got together, the resulting incidents made for interesting table talk.

“Be nice, he’s my best friend.”

“Yeah and he makes a living locking up his own people.” She shot him a glance, Marcus couldn’t argue, even though he’d tried to diffuse as many situations as he could, Marcus often wondered at his friend’s career choice.

“Well let’s head downstairs, and get this over with.” If there was one thing, Marcus didn’t like it was ritual, in the basement of the restaurant lie Altars to the Loa. This is where they called forward the bulk of their Ashe, magical energy, Marcus’ run in with the Kishi had drained him and he’d need all of the energy he could get. They walked toward the back of the employees only section and through a door, traveling down the steps into the dark sub-basement always reminded him of the Bat-cave, without the hot car and giant super computer of course. They walked through one level of the basement and arrived at the bottom. It was pitch black until Ebony snapped her fingers and the lights flicked on. The area was large, on each of the four walls was a symbol and an altar with various items on them, a mask here a bowl there and candles everywhere. In the middle of the floor was another symbol.

“Last stop, veve’s, ancestral masks and offerings everyone off.” Ebony laughed.

“Can we just get this over with and leave?” Marcus stood in the middle; Ebony walked over to one of the altars and brought a bowl with smoke rising from it. It smelled of Jasmine, Frank incense and another scent he couldn’t place, but it didn’t matter he had already felt the ground become soft below him. He convulsed once and then hunched over, Ebony made no move to help him she only backed away. Darkness crept from beneath his feet slowly pulling him in and wrapping him in it.

Ebony put the bowl back walked to another altar and picked up a bottle of curious liquid, she opened it, closed her eyes, and downed the liquid after a few moments, here eyes shot open, glowing a strange gold. At that moment it was as if she’d vanished and in her place appeared a tall feminine figure in black and gold, her face hooded as smoking coals burned in her eyes. She turned toward the tall figure who red aura illuminated the dimly lit room. He wore a long black robe with red trim; his head is like a black hole with blazing suns for eyes, his dreadlocks danced in the air like medusas snakes with reckless abandon. He turned to her as his shadowed flesh coursed with red lines of energy. “Can we leave now?” His voice was doubled eerie and inhuman possessed by the ancient spirit, bestowed upon the males of his family.

“Now we can leave.” Ebony spoke, her voice doubled.

Marcus breathed in slowly and all at once, the light dimmed, flickered, and finally went out. They were hugged by the darkness; it spiraled around them and formed a door in the very fabric of reality. “Ladies first.” Marcus’ dual voice made his humor sound strange almost inhuman. He gestured toward the door.

“You’re too kind.” She walked through and he followed, the candles in the room flickered back on waving in the black.

Thomas Haven sat in his office, head back enjoying the peace and quite of the spacious dwelling, as the setting sun bathed his walnut brown skin in its glow. Here he felt more at home than anywhere else. A knock on the door prompted him to sigh heavily. “Come in.” A young woman with a caramel complexion and a mousy disposition crept in. “Sir some one’s here to…aiee.” The young woman jumped as a hand made contact with her backside Bruce walked through the door with an arrogant smile. The young woman flushed and ran out of the office. Haven sighed and sat up. “God damn it Bruce you want her to bring a sexual harassment suit up against me?”

Bruce still wore the smile. “She’ll be fine I’ll talk to her after we’re finished talking.” He walked over to his desk and sat down in an empty chair. “I just came from Geoffrey’s place.”

“Didn’t think you were able to set foot in a church.” Haven chuckled.

“It’s practically mine so why can’t I?” Bruce’s face became serious. “When does the flight arrive?”

“In about an hour.” Haven tented his fingers. “I’m curious as to why this one considering her history, one would assume you’d just want to kill her.

“Oh no, a black sheep is always useful.” Bruce went on. “Speaking of which, how’s the kid?”

Haven grimaced. “ Olivia is fine and of little concern to you.”

“I’m sure although, I was talking about the boy.” Bruce crossed his legs.

“I…I don’t know what…”

“Oh you don’t, well let me ask you a question.” Bruce pause. “What’s the price you pay for killing another persons child?”

Haven’s face went hard and sweat began to form on it. Bruce looked at him, amused. “You have to supply them with something equal in value.”

“What do you know?” Haven was angry. “Tell me!” He demanded.

“They say the sun always sets on the west coast.” Bruce smiled and got up. “Get your coat on, we’ve got a guest to entertain.”

Haven was seething but complied. “Right, you’re right.” As they headed for the door Bruce turned around. “Oh and Tommy, don’t raise your voice to me, I’m not a child and you’re not a parent.” Haven hung his head as he put his long wool coat on. As they headed to the elevator Bruce stopped to address the receptionist who was watching him wearily. “Sorry about earlier, It’s just that you reminded me so much of a video model from the back.” She grimaced at him. She knew his type he saw women as objects and nothing more. Little did she know he saw everyone that way. “Let me tell you something, I don’t care what I look like to you, you have no goddamned right to touch me.” Bruce smiled at her looked at Haven who scowled and then leaned in close to her. “You’re right and I’m sorry, now may I tell you something?” Before she could respond Bruce was whispering in her ear, the words were in audible to Haven but by the young woman’s glazing expression he knew what it was. She let out a yelp and pushed away from him, flushed and breathing heavily. Bruce slipped his card on the table. “Give me a call we can talk about your career.” He bowed a little bit then followed Haven into the elevator. On their way down Bruce looked at Thomas. “Nice staff you’ve got here strong willed.”

“Didn’t think you like that, figured sheep were more your style.” Thomas said without looking at him.

“No, no what I enjoy is breaking the strong willed. That’s why I hang around you so much. October is pathetic and Banks is too easy.”

“So if I folded I’d get rid of you eh?” Haven allowed himself a smile.

“Look I know you don’t like me Thomas but I like you and lets be honest, I was chosen to lead our little club, when everyone else from the younger generation left.” Bruce smiled like John Shaft. “ So lets try and be friends okay?”

“Yes don’t remind me.” The elevator continued down uninterrupted. “It is a shame though that we couldn’t recruit any of the older families to help us.”

“No it’s not we already had one incident, one I had to clean up myself we don’t need another.”

Haven sighed, the elevator kept moving however it never actually got to the bottom. He made a mental note to change the location of his office to a lower floor. “I don’t think it’ll be like that, we could at least extend the invitation.”

“Listen Thomas some traits are hereditary and in this case idealism is one of them, our best and only course of action should be to eliminate the problem before it becomes to big to handle. As it is I can’t do it alone so get with the program already.”

“And I thought I was supposed to be the doubting one.” Haven allowed himself a laugh.

“Very funny Thomas, but let me tell you something that is not so funny.” For the first time Haven had noticed a tinge of something like fear in Bruce’s voice. “The old families are more trouble than they are worth, which is why we started recruiting new ones in the 80’s.”

“But they pale in comparison to the older ones, especially the…” Bruce cut him off just as the doors opened.

“The Ripley family is the reason we’re in this mess, so do not bring them up again. The best thing for us would be to do away with them, we already put one in the dirt.” Bruce began to walk out of the elevator followed by Thomas whose face was now plastered with a forlorn expression. He couldn’t believe how so much had changed in what seemed like such a short while, for there was a time when Bruce spoke of one of the Ripley’s with such admiration. They walked out of the building passing on lookers and headed out into the street where a Cadillac limousine waited for them. The chauffer opened the door and they climbed in. They were greeted by two large body guards in smart black suits each of them wore sunglasses, however even if he couldn’t see their eyes Thomas could still feel the other world energy they exuded.
The front door slammed and Bruce called out. “Driver, take us to JFK air port.” The cars lights flickered on as did the radio, the song by up and coming rapper Kenny Maxwell AKA Seventh Circle blasted from the speakers.

“I like this kid.” Bruce sat back and closed his eyes. “He’s got a really righteous feel to him.”

Another soul to foul Thomas thought as he sneered at Bruce in unhidden disgust. He let a thought play in the back of his mind, If Han were here we wouldn’t have to work with this monster. Then again if it weren’t for Han, there would be no monster in the first place. His face turned maudlin as he took a bottle of vodka from the ice bucket poured it into a glass and drank. People outside watched as the sleek black vehicle cruised passed them as if from another world.

1 comment:

Rolanda said...

I like the new characters introduced here. I have to say that the scene transitions were a little hard to follow and the last scene in particular was pretty confusing. There was absolutely no physical descriptions of those characters and it made it easy to get lost.