BJ Vadis' comment:
I archived this thread from Speculative Fiction and put this into my new category: Aspiring Writers. I hope they can really finish their novels and publish it - and they works get distributed in Indonesia and (perhaps) I'll buy them. Go go Fantasy Writers!
Please click on the link to find out more about this excerpt and the writer's profile.
It was raining, that day I found him…
“Hey mister, are you ok?”
He looked up at her, a drop of blood falling from his lips.
…Angel of Darkness.
He could hear the rain, but it was different now, muffled and sharp, like the water was striking glass. Without opening his eyes, he ran his hands against the soft weight that encased his entire body. It felt warm, and for a moment, he allowed himself to relax…
Isfrail’s eyes shot open, and he found himself staring into the reflection of the purple sunglasses pushed up against his face. Both he and the owner started, the latter staggering a few steps back before regaining her composure.
Pulling the blankets piled on top of him up so that they covered his naked chest, he watched as the flustered girl tried to pull her clothes back into order. She was tall, with unruly blond hair that tumbled out from under an old fashioned black hat down to the bottom of her shoulder blades. A dark, button up shirt and pleated skirt covered her upper body, revealing slender legs that were laced up in combat boots.
“Oh, hi mister. You’re awake,” she said, rubbing the back of her neck as she stared at him from behind her glasses. “I was starting to think you were gonna sleep forever.”
“It appears not,” he told her, stretching his arms. A pain flamed to life in his torso, and he winced, pushing the blankets away from his body. A layer of bandages had been wrapped around his midriff, red blossoms staining the white linen.
“Don’t move around too much,” the girl warned him, crouching down beside the bed, which was actually only a mattress on the floor. As she bent over to readjust the knots holding the bandages together, he caught her scent, a floral smell tinged with something else he couldn’t place. “You were torn up pretty bad when I brought you back here.”
“Why did you?”
Her head jerked up, and she flashed him a smile that made him inhale sharply. “You asked me to. Well, not the first time,” she admitted, leaning back again. Her arms wrapped themselves around her knees, and he noticed hundreds of tiny scars covering her hands. “The first time, you told me to go away.”
Isfrail frowned. “But you came back?”
She nodded, reaching up to tuck a stray wisp of hair behind her ear. “Yep, and brought an extra umbrella with me, which turned out to be a good idea. I didn’t expect you to be so tall when I saw you slouched over like you were. Had some pretty good injuries, you did.”
“They’re nothing,” he insisted, suppressing the urge to roll his eyes as she gave him a skeptical look. “Wounds like that can not seriously hurt me.”
The corners of her mouth twitched, and moved forward to get a better look at his face. “And why is that?”
He pressed his mouth to her ear. “Because I am a Demon.”
The girl pulled back, her eyes guarded behind the purple lenses. Then, despite of Isfrail’s cries of outrage, she started to laugh. It was a light sound that swept through the air, cutting his protest short.
“Oh, that’s was funny,” she told him, a tear running down over her cheek. “Well, demon boy, how about some tea?”
She climbed gracefully to her feet and left the room, the echoes of her footsteps following in her wake as she disappeared down the hall. Isfrail watched her go, and then looked down at the bindings around his waist. They were well done, and he wondered silently how often she cared for the injured.
That though was cut off as his mind drifted back to the scent he had picked up from her earlier. It wasn’t something material, like the flowery perfume she wore. It was something that tainted her natural human smell. He knew it, but it hovered beyond his reach for the moment.
“What are you brooding about?” she asked from the doorway, head cocked to the side as she looked down at him.
“”Nothing,” he assured her, eyes traveling down to where her hands were clutched at her sides.
She followed his gaze, and a light pink worked its way into her pale cheeks. “Oh, right. I forgot to ask what kind of tea you wanted. I have mint and green.”
“Green will be fine.
She nodded and turned to leave again, glancing over her thin shoulder. “Before I forget, I tried to save your white shirt but there was too much blood on it. The jacket is fine, though, and is on the back of the chair in the kitchen.”
Isfrail smirked and climbed shakily to his feet, taking a deep breath as a wave of pain rolled over him. Once steady, he walked stiffly over to the little closet in the back of the room and closed the door, counted to three, and reopened it.
Inside, white dress shirts hung from wire hangers, waiting for him. Sending a silent thanks to his maid, wherever in the Underworld she was, he grabbed one and slid the door shut again. Sliding his arms into the stiff sleeves, he pulled the cloth up over his shoulders, leaving the buttons undone.
Realizing she had taken his boots off, he bent down beside the mattress with a groan and picked them up, carrying with him as he went in search of the kitchen.
In the end, it was his nose that led him to the small room, and he leaned of the doorframe as the girl ran across the tiled floor. Her back was turned as he stepped inside, and without a sound, he found his jacket and pulled it as well.
She must have seen him from the corner of her eyes, because as he looked down at the only chair, which was covered in miscellaneous junk, she sighed and bowed her head.
“I thought I told you not to move around,” she said, her voice dangerously low. Turning to him, she saw what he was staring at, and her anger quickly faded into embarrassment. “Sorry about that…I’m not used to having people here.”
“It’s ok,” he laughed, dropping happily to the floor. As she watched, he began to pull on the black boots. A grimace covered his face as he bent his knees to tie the laces, and she quickly fell to her knees in front of him, taking the strings from his thin fingers.
“Here, let me.”
She bent over him, the brim of her hat shadowing the upper half of her face. Before he could stop himself, his hand was under her chin, lifting it so that he could see her more clearly. With a sound of disgust, he reached up and took the glasses from the bridge of her nose, gasping in shock.
The girl’s eyes were the palest green he had ever seen, the color of light jade, with burst of bright gold exploding around the irises. Framed by thick lashes, they were the most alluring thing he had ever seen in any of the three worlds.
“Gimme those,” she demanded in mock irritation, a tiny smile slipping through as she retrieved them from his hand and slid them back up over her eyes. As if released from a trance, Isfrail blinked and looked away, remaining silent as she finished her task.
As she returned to the tea, he felt another urge, and began to rise. When she turned back to him, she found him kneeling on the tiles before her, taking one of her hands in both of his own.
“What is your name?”
“Eve,” she breathed, unsure of what to do.
“Well, Eve, my beautiful savior. You saved my life, and I won’t leave until I have repaid my debt. I, the Demon Isfrail, will grant you the wish you most desire.”
Eve curled on the bed beside the beautiful stranger, staring at his face while he slept. A stray lock of hair fell across his eyes, and she reached out with trembling fingers, brushing it back. It was the first thing that had dragged her attention to him that day, and she smiled as she ran her fingers along its length.
His haircut was odd, long on one side and cropped short on the other, but the color was stranger still. Darker than a shadow, it had blood red glints that shimmered when he stepped into the light, contrasting with his pale skin so like her own.
It had been three days since she had dragged him out of the alley and into her home, and in that time, she had realized that her guest was a very complex man. She had played along with his demon story, agreeing to think about his offer to grant her what she desired the most just because it made him smile. Inside, her heart was breaking, though. Soon, he would leave, and she would be alone again.
The doorbell rang, and Eve held her breath as Isfrail shifted in his sleep. He murmured something under his breath and rolled over, now facing the wall. Easing away from him, she padded into the main room and cracked open the front door.
A pair of excited grey eyes stared at her through the opening, their owner literally jumping in her excitement. “So, where’s your new stray? I’m dieing to see it!”
“Well, Rose…” she started to say, stepping aside to let her friend into the house. The woman paid her no mind, shoving past and running into the room. Seeing no one but Eve, she made her way to the bedroom. “Rose, be quiet…!”
Rose beat Eve to the room, and the girl heard her yelp from the living room. With a sigh, she tiptoed back to where Isfrail was still sleeping peacefully, unaware of the woman staring at him.
“There’s a man in your bed, Eve,” Rose said quietly, reaching out to grab Eve’s arm in a death grip. “This isn’t the ‘stray’, is it?”
She gave her friend and innocent look and pulled her gently away from the bedroom, trying her best not to disturb her sleeping guest. Once they were in the living room, she pushed Rose into the small couch and sat down beside her.
“His name was Isfrail,” she explained, holding up a finger to silence whatever Rose had been about to say. “He was hurt and I brought him home.”
“He’s not a stray animal, Eve! You can’t just bring strange men into your house?” She paused, and lowered her voice to a half whisper. “He’s gorgeous, though. Has he woken up yet?”
Eve laughed and shifted around so that her legs were under her body. “Yeah, he’s been awake most of the time. He’s just taking a nap now. You should see him in the mornings. Such a grouch!”
“Sounds like a real winner,” Rose huffed, resting her head back on the cushions. “So, what’s he like?”
“I don’t know. He’s only been here a few days.”
“He’s been in your house for days and you can’t tell me anything about him?”
She closed her eyes and sighed. “He’s really nice. Helps out when I ask him to, and is really polite. I’m kinda worried, though. He got hurt pretty bad, and now he keeps telling me he’s a demon… I think maybe he’s got an infection.”
“So you let a psycho in?” Rose grabbed her shoulders and gave her a solid shake. “He hasn’t tried to…do anything to you, has he?”
“No, nothing like that,” she laughed, gently untangling herself from her friend’s arms. “He’s really polite, like I said. Doesn’t talk much, either, but when he does, it’s always about the same thing.”
Rose frowned. “What’s that?”
“Well, when he thanked me for helping him, he said he wasn’t leaving until he granted me a wish.” Eve paused as she remembered the flood of emotions she had felt when she had seen him kneeling on the floor. “Ever since then, all he does is ask me what I want to wish for…”
“And what do you think you’ll wish for?” her friend wanted to know.
She stared at Rose, eyebrows raised. “You don’t think I’m actually going to wish for something, do you? Let’s not encourage his strange behavior, alright?”
“If you say so.” The woman looked at her watch and groaned. “I’ve got to go. My parents have this family thing planned out, and I can’t be late. I’ll come back tomorrow, ok?”
The pair walked to the door, and once Rose was driving away in her car, Eve went back to the bed, pressing up against Isfrail’s back. When he didn’t move, she sighed and hugged herself.
“I wish you would stay with me forever,” she whispered.
“Alright,” came his voice from the other side of the blankets. Eve jumped, and he flipped over, smiling at her shock. Her eyes were immediately drawn to his, azure rimmed with blood red circles.
“How long have you been awake?” she demanded.
“Since the doorbell rang. Are you sure that’s your wish?”
She started again. “What do you mean?”
“I’ll stay if you want me to.”
“But…don’t you need to go home?” She bit her lip enough the blood welled around her teeth. “You can’t be serious.”
“Completely serious,” he assured her, reaching out to take her hand. “I’ll stay with you. I’m in no hurry to go anywhere. Forever is fine with me.” His eyes began to flutter, and she knew he was tired.
“Alright,” she cooed, smoothing his hair away from his forehead. When she was sure he was asleep, she pulled away, curling up into a small ball. No matter what he promised, she wasn’t going to let herself hope. Everyone went away, eventually.
SPFBO: The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo) - *Official Author Website* *Order The Grey Bastards HERE* *OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Jonathan French* was born in Tennessee, and spent his childhood re...
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