I promised that I'd start it soon, and well, it's soon.
Here's the start of the next book, guys. Hope you enjoy.
"What see'st thou else In the dark backward and abysm of time?" Prospero, Act I, Scene II
Sometimes you just have one of those days.
Water soaked through the bottom of my jeans as my tennis shoe came down straight into the middle of yet another puddle. "You know what would be great right now?" I shouted sidelong to my companion in our headlong run out of the drainage tunnel.
Often, the pink haired dryad girl that had, in the course of a very short time, become my best friend, tossed a look over her shoulder as we burst out of the tunnel and into the open. "I don't know, a minigun? Maybe a rocket launcher? Or a burrito?"
The last bit made me squint at her just as we hit the sunlight, emerging into a large drainage ditch with 15 foot high sloping walls. "A burrito?" Often has a thing for food. She puts away more in a day than most people do in a week. Yet she still looks like an athletic young sixteen year old girl. Considering she's more than two hundred years old, I don't know which part is more unfair.
The girl shrugged. "Well I'd feel better." One more quick glance back and then she nodded. "Break right on three. One... two..." Just as she shouted "Three!" Often threw herself to the left. At the same time, I hurled myself to the right.
We were both lucky that she didn't count any slower. Because in the exact instant that the two of us threw ourselves in opposite directions, something massive entered the space where we had just been. Something massive and... scaley.
Less than three years ago, I was a student in an average college with no declared major. Now I'm literally inches away from a snake the size of a subway train that wants to eat me. As far as years go, mine have been eventful.
I've already written about how I came to discover both my powers and my true nature. But suffice it to say, my name is Macbeth, and I am Lachesis, one of the Moirae from the Greek Myths. Some call us the Fates. Over a thousand years ago, my sisters and I worked to destroy the greatest evil that this world has ever known. Echidna, the mother of monsters, had to be stopped. But one of my sisters, Atropos, turned against us. It was all we could do to seal ourselves into a vortex of time with the betrayer and the Great Evil.
And now we're back in this world. Now, Echidna has absorbed Atropos and taken over the body of my brother, which she claims to be her own. The last thing she said to me before leaving before was that she was going to wake up some monsters. The seventy foot long snake to my left would seem to seem to lend credence to this claim.
We had come to Detroit, and begun exploring the drainage tunnels, to find the bracelet that I had worn eons ago. I didn't know why it was important, but my vision of kids finding it in one of these tunnels convinced me that it was. Since the vision hadn't given me any clue of the children's identities, we hoped that finding the right tunnel would eventually lead to them. The first two tunnels had been dead ends. This one had been... well considering the snake, the term dead end might still apply.
The thing was massive. I had seen monsters that Echidna created before, but those were only gargoyles made from ordinary people. This was different. This was terrifying. I would like to repeat that through the first 18 years of this life, I was an average girl. We're not talking about Conana the She-Barbarian here.
On the other hand, we couldn't just let this monster roam loose. I had the sneaking suspicion that the local police were even less qualified for this particular job than I was. Detroit was a rough city, but not that rough.
"We have to take this thing down before it hurts anyone!" I shouted to the girl on the opposite side of the giant snake. At the sound of my voice, the snake's head whipped my way. Poison dripped from its fangs as the creature lunged at me. Ironically, if it had been a normal sized snake, it would have latched right on. But bigger things are, by their nature, slower. I was able throw myself into a side roll back closer to the tunnel entrance while the snake snapped at the air where I had been.
Often nodded grimly. I could see the dryad, from my position half tumbled into the dirt, as she gathered herself and then leapt. She landed on the back of the monster, near the head, and then held on for dear life as the snake threw itself up and back in anger. The head of the snake rose above the high walls of the culvert, while Often shouted. "You never told me what would be great right now!"
"Oh yeah." I answerd while picking myself out of the dirt. The snake was thrashing, throwing itself around violently while Often struggled to hold on. "I was going to say that Crocodile Hunter guy would be useful!" I took a breath, muttered a prayer, and then ran at the snake once more before throwing myself onto its back.
The snake twisted itself all the way around, momentarily distracted away from the rider perched just behind its head. Often called down. "I'm pretty sure he died, babe!"
"Well **** then." I replied, watching the snake's tongue as it flicked out of its mouth. The body was wide enough for me to straddle like a large horse. Instead, I picked myself up to stand on it, balanced precariously like a surfboard. "Does he have an understudy?"
"I dunno." Often admitted even as the snake reared itself back, nearly losing her in the process. "But I don't have his number anyway. Can we go back to my grenade launcher idea?!"
"I wish." I answered under my breath. The snake was going to lunge any second. I could see its tongue lashing at the air, tasting it. Then I remembered something from biology. "It uses the tongue like we use eyes. Often, grab the tongue!"
Immediately, the other girl threw her hand out, past the snake's mouth while she held on with one arm. Her hand closed in a tight fist around the outstretched tongue, and then she yanked. The vicious hiss of fury that escaped the creature then was chilling. Now it was mad. I tried to remember why this was a good idea.
Furious now, the snake thrashed itself around several times. Often was barely able to hang on. I could see that she was losing her grip, so I had to act. Raising my foot, I stomped down as hard on the snake as I could. "Hey, stupid! Did you forget about me?" My propensity toward idiotic good ideas continues.
I had the snake's attention now, for better or worse. Blinded as it was without the use of its tongue, the monster could feel exactly where I was. Without any warning whatsoever, the thing threw itself down at me. In its fury, it moved faster than it had before. If I was a normal girl, I'd be dead.
But, as average as I had been at one time, I was anything but normal now. In the space between seconds as I stood on the back of that monster, I saw it lunge. I saw the mouth close over me as the thing tore my body into its gullet in a single bite. I saw myself die. And I saw how to make sure it didn't happen. My powers allow me to see into the future. When I am focused, I can see the next few seconds of a fight and know exactly what to do. Right now what my incredible, awe-inspiring power was telling me to do was truly breathtaking. It told me to dodge. I'll give you a moment to tremble at its majesty.
As the snake struck, I was already moving. "Often, down!" I shouted while throwing myself into a backwards roll. The whole body of the snake shifted under me, and I fell from the thing's back, landing hard on the dirty cement. It hurt, but my pain was nothing compared to the monster's. While Often landed on her feet next to me after tossing herself away from it, we both watched the snake bite directly into the spot where I had been standing a second earlier. Only I wasn't there anymore. Instead, the giant monster had bitten directly into its own back.
The thing seemed frozen in surprise, with its deadly fangs jammed through its own scales. We could both see the poison seeping into the creature. It seemed woozy already, but still pulled its head upward, starting to draw the fangs out.
Often looked to me, and I nodded to her. We both had the same thought. Without needing to exchange a word, we moved. The dryad ran forward and leapt up once more. She landed directly on the creature's back, less than a foot from its head. Her hand came back and caught my extended wrist, hauling me up with her.
We stood in front of the wounded snake's head. It was moving slower now, its own poison moving through its body. But it wasn't down. Not yet. The snake opened its mouth to attack once more, if nothing else then to take us down with it. However, we didn't have any plans on accompanying the vile thing into the hell that it was about to descend into.
As the snake opened its mouth in preparation of its double girl meal, each of us followed our unspoken plan. Rather than dodging, we both lunged forward and reached out. To the surprise of the snake, and I'm sure of the boy at my school who used to torment me with a garter snake if he could have seen me, my hands closed around the extended fang. Beside me Often held the other one. Together, the two of us yanked backwards as hard as we could. With a ripping, tearing sound that I swear made the snake scream, we tore the fangs directly out of the serpent's mouth.
I could feel the poison dripping from the fang. It burned my arm, but I couldn't hesitate. Rearing back with the 4 foot fang clutched like a sword over my head, I slammed it down directly into the snake's still lowered head with a scream. At the same time, Often shoved her fang into the underside of its mouth and backwards through its head.
With a fang through the top of its head and through the bottom, the snake was completely still for a moment. Then it fell apart. Exploded would be the best term, since both Often and myself were hurtled backwards into the cement wall with enough force to knock the wind out of us.
By the time I could breath again, picking myself up, the body of the snake was nowhere to be seen. "What happened?" I asked with a flinch as I saw the blistering red mark on my arm. I hoped the poison wouldn't do anything worse than that, since it hadn't done more than drip on my skin.
Often answered while dusting herself off. "It died. When a monster like that dies, its body is destroyed. The physical remains are taken back to wherever the monsters come from as raw material for the next monster birth. The ahhhh, force of the monster's energy leaving the shell is what we just felt."
"Next monster birth?" I echoed. "Oh yippee. Come on, let's check that tunnel again before this next monster thing decides to pop out."
"It takes longer than that." The other girl scoffed. But she still followed me into the tunnel.
"Not taking the chance." I called back to her. "If this is the ditch those kids were playing in when they found my bracelet, I'll recognize the area." I paused then before adding. "I hope."
"I hope the bracelet is worth it." Often said. "You still haven't been able to remember what it does?" She came up beside me, taking my arm. "Let me see."
Obediently, I held my arm out to her. "No." I knew I sounded frustrated. "I just know it's important. I have no idea why." Then I flinched as the girl touched the redness on my arm. "Oww. Tell me that stuff didn't get into my blood."
"It didn't seep through." The dryad responded with a look of concentration as she examined my skin. "It'll be sore for awhile, but as soon as we get out of here, I'll find some ointment for it. You're okay, Macbeth."
I scoffed at that. "I tend to think of myself as more than okay." But I shot the other girl a thankful smile. I didn't know how I'd gotten along without her before. Truthfully, with the insanity that my life now was, with actual monsters rising, I wouldn't get along at all without Often. Our banter aside, she is my best friend.
She returned my smile, and seemed to be about to say something else, when I interrupted. "Here." My quick voice startled even myself as it echoed around the dim tunnel, near where we had been before the snake came up out of the recesses and scared the hell out of us. "This is where those kids found my bracelet. I remember that graffiti." I pointed to the painted markings on the wall.
There was no answer. I turned to find my companion biting her lip as she stared at the floor in thought. Quietly I asked. "What's up?"
After a moment, Often looked up. She looked worried, which frankly meant I should feel terrified. "That snake wasn't nesting here. It was here for a reason. I think it was the same reason that we're here."
I frowned. "You think it was looking for the bracelet?"
"Yeah, I do." She answered. "And it wasn't the only one." Stepping back so I could see, she pointed to the ground. I had to squint and move closer, but I could make out several distinct prints. Some looked like clawed feet, others like hoof prints that were way too large to be cows.
Staring at the tracks, I swallowed. "More monsters. You think they were here for the bracelet? I guess it's a good thing it's gone already then. Lucky break?"
Often didn't smile. "Most monsters can track magic, Mac. They can smell it. If the thing was here, they'll be able to follow it."
That made my eyes widen. "Oh **** no, please. You mean that..." I trailed off, not wanting to say it.
She said it for me with a nod. "If we don't find those kids soon, the monsters will. And Macbeth? Those kids are going to die."