I could tell when i walked into the room that something was not as it should be. I could see the tension in the way Damon was standing and the unaccustomed frown on Eru’s face. I wondered for a second if they had been arguing.
Damon came over to me and took my hand. It was a measure of how comfortable I had become with him so quickly that it didn’t feel strange.
“They are coming” he said.
My heart sank. Great timing, murderous otherworldly beings I thought, Wait ‘til I’m all psyched up to deal with the ex-husband and then show up, getting all rowdy. I felt I should have my serious face on to run away from bad guys but at that minute, the only thing that really felt real was that I knew I was going to have to be apart from my children for some unknown length of time. Anything else sort of faded. I’d never previously worried about having to run away from fairy soldiers, or whatever they were, so it was hard to really grasp what was happening. On the other hand, losing my children and being a terrible mother was something I worried about pretty much all the time.
I became aware that a response was expected from me.
“Okay then, so what’s the new plan? We get rid of the bad guys in a blaze of glory before telling the ex I’m the newest magic person in his life?”
Eru rolled his eyes, his arms tight across his chest, and Damon looked at me consideringly.
“I would phrase it differently perhaps, but I guess that’s ultimately the plan, yes.”
“Problem is, Phoebe,” said Eru, “Those people out there are apparently not otherworldly which means they don’t need invitations which means at any moment they’ll be bashing down the door and pointing guns at us. Damon didn’t believe me when i told him I don’t own a gun, but fact is we’re unarmed except for him and his powers, which I hope include a heavier arsenal than smoke pictures and burgling people’s homes.”
Eru only gets snarky when he’s stressed. The thought of armed men breaking their way into the house was a legitimate cause of stress I think.
“So what are we going to do?”
I found myself looking at Damon as I spoke. He still held my hand and as he looked down at me his grip seemed to tighten almost without conscious thought.
“We will have to fight them Phoebe. I am powerful”, and he said this without any bravado or cockiness, just a plain statement of truth, “But to get past them and out in enough time and with enough left to fend off Marius and Aeron will stretch my limits.” He paused, turning me to face him. “I will need you, Phoebe. You need to fight as well. People might die, and you will be the one to take their life. But this is a thing that must be done.”
As a nice quiet research officer living a fairly nice middle class existence, you don’t ever expect to be told that you’re going to have to be the reason someone maybe doesn’t go home to their families. Even the fact that they were in between me and my children didn’t stop the churning feeling in my stomach and the sense of dislocation striking me.
“You do realise, Damon, that I don’t have the least idea how to use this energy, this power thing at all?”
“Yes” he said gently, “but I will be there with you and I will show you. Listen for my voice inside your mind and do as I say without question.” Do you understand?
I gasped. His voice in my head was like a piece of music. I could understand the words and what he wanted me to do, but what I really heard was music.
“Yes’ I said. And then tried Yes. He smiled, the expression of a teacher pleased with a pupil doing something unexpected.
“This is all very well”, interposed Eru, who was looking out the window, “but what are we actually going to do, because if I’m not mistaken that was a pretty big crash out there.”
Damon stilled and now I could almost feel him reaching out with his mind. “They are inside and on their way up to this floor. We have some moments. Eru, you will have to stay behind us. Phoebe, stay next to me. Remember, do whatever I tell you.”
There was a loud crash as Eru’s front door exploded inwards, then Damon seemed to push outwards and the first four men through the door catapulted backwards. There were some sickening crunching noises when they landed, and at least two looked like they weren’t going to be moving again. Ever. I resolutely looked away from them. Damon was pulling me forward, and at the same time his voice came in my mind “Don’t worry Phoebe. You are stronger than them. You are more real than them. Their bullets cannot harm you.”
At this I saw him Matrix-style slow the bullets down until they dropped in front of us, scattering underfoot as we walked over them. Push them away Phoebe. You must deflect them with your thoughts. Do not fear for Eru, I will ensure his safety
My stomach dropped. I hadn’t even thought about Eru and his non-Matrix abilities, great friend that I am. Several more soldiers were sent crashing into walls or each other. Strange that no-one in the apartment building seemed to be aware of the noise. I caught movement out of the side of my eye and darting my head around saw a man with a machine gun pointed right at Damon, whose back was towards him. Without thinking, I shoved him away. The feeling was intense, as if a great rush of something went pouring out of me. I could see my hand glowing with it. The poor man went flying across the room. The force of it threw him out of the window, but not before I could avoid seeing the blood appearing on his vest like his organs had exploded out of his body.
I started shaking and everything after that blurred. I listened to Damon in my mind and did what he told me. If I’d thought about it at all I would have expected the energy to diminish with each use but it never did. Each time there was that rush of power out of me, although I tried hard after that first one to rein it in a little. I got better at it with practice. There were quite a few soldiers to practice on.
The stairs from Eru’s apartment were crowded with soldiers. It was like one of those action movies, but the bodies were distressingly real as we sent them crashing. When we made it outside I took a heaving breath of air. There was an oppressive feeling, like the kind you get before a thunderstorm. It seemed to push on my mind, making my body sluggish. There were different voices in my head now, a continual onslaught of self-doubt and giving up. I didn’t want to do what they said but even moving seemed difficult, and I stopped.
“Damon!” Eru’s shout came like a muffled siren in fog.
Then Damon was in front of me, cupping my face in his hands, forcing me to look in his eyes.
Phoebe. You are stronger than they are. Build a wall.
And he showed me how to build it, a brick at a time. It felt like forever but it was really only a second or two. Once my wall was in place I could no longer hear those voices and when they were silenced I found that the fog had lifted and I could move freely. It’s pretty crappy knowing that people can enter your mind like that.
Damon grabbed my hand again and tugged me along. I threw my other hand out to Eru and he ran at my other side. Eyes a little wild but nothing but grim determination on his face. And dirt, but I think we were all covered in quite a bit of dust and grime. Hah. Grime Determination. My wheezing turned into a hiccuping laugh. Eru gets snarky with stress, I make stupid jokes.
I could hear Damon muttering, it sounded like “Not now little brother”, then two figures fell out of the sky. Before I even had a chance to take them in, a bolt of dirty crimson went shooting over to my left side, to Eru. Damon has the reflexes of a cat. Not just a cat, a super cat. His arm was out and a pulse of purple energy was intersecting the crimson before I drew breath to shout a warning. Eru had frozen, completely still. I reached for him with my mind and found I could feel his emotions – a mass of fear and anger and intense protection. I saw a faint blue shimmer around him like an aura but it had gone by my next blink.
The two new arrivals were an impressive sight. The woman was tall and raven haired. I had always wanted to call someone that, but her hair really was like a raven’s wing – it wasn’t just black, it glowed and shimmered with an iridescence. She was one of the most exquisite looking people I’d ever seen. But her eyes were like stone.
The man was shorter and fair haired. He had a certain impish quality about him. His eyes looked like they smiled a lot, but he had the build and stance of a warrior. Well, he looked like the movies said warriors looked like. Damon was still standing alert, every muscle tense and ready to move. He’d never looked more like a panther.
“You know you can’t win little brother”
The man laughed and I startled. ‘Brother?’
“But I thought it was you, Damon, who taught me the value of persistence? We are not as helpless as you think. Your prize has no control yet, she displays only raw unshaped power”
I felt such indignation at being called a prize, but I also knew he was right.
Damon, shifted slightly closer to me and Eru, but never took his eyes off his brother.
“There you are wrong, Marius, she can already shape her power and has begun to do so.”
I tried not to look as taken aback as I felt. Right, so I’m supposed to be able to control these bursts.
They leaped towards us and then all I could see was a swirl of colours – purple from Damon, yellow from Marius and that dirty crimson from the woman who must be Aeron. If colour could ever be a cacophony, this was the time. It was overwhelming. The purple was not only attacking the other colours but it had spread out to form a shield around Eru and me.
They moved so fast it was hard to track them.
My body tingled as a huge pressure built up within me. Probably a reaction to the powers of the others. I tried to keep my eyes on Damon, at the centre of the maelstrom of energy. He was so strong. He looked like he could hold off the world forever.
But then Eru was at my side. ‘Pheebs, I think if you can do something you should. Damon looks like he’s not gonna hold out. I reckon he could do with some help.’
Looking closer I could see the strain around his eyes and the strength of his body looked more like a body under an enormous amount of pressure. My mouth went dry as panic rose. I had no idea what to do. Marius was right, I didn’t have any control over this whatsoever.
“Phoebe!” Eru’s voice was more urgent now. I could see without being told that the purple around Damon was wavering. Crimson and yellow were pushing it back. The blue was back around Eru but it was weak and dilute.
“What do I do, Eru!”
“I don’t know! I’m not the one with magic spells up my sleeve! Just stop it!”
Stop it. Yes, I just have to stop it.
That became the focus of all my thoughts. One great giant mental squash – ‘STOP’. Nothing happened, which made me feel foolish. Phoebe. Focus. Feel it. I shut my eyes and tried to do what Damon’s voice in my mind sang to me, to feel that buzzing inside me to channel it somehow. My arms rose of their own accord. I took a breath, then in my mind I pushed out STOP.
The result was unexpected.
I’d half expected my colour to be the red I’d produced in Eru’s kitchen, but instead a great blanket of white fell on the warring shades and simply snuffed them out. Damon fell backwards and would have fallen if Eru hadn’t darted forward to grab him. Marius and Aeron also stumbled then stood staring in disbelief. I didn’t quite know what to think myself. Aeron thrust out her arm but nothing happened. She stared at her hand as if it didn’t belong to her then thrust it out again with a harsh shout. Still nothing happened. It was if that cloud of white, which was still lightly swirling over the ground in little tufts, had sapped all energy from them. I looked at my own hand. It felt pretty tingly. I concentrated and little red glows puffed out from my fingertips. Huh. That was unexpected.
I looked up and met Damon’s eyes. I couldn’t quite read his expression. Pride, envy, shock. I kind of hoped pride was foremost, but to be honest I think it was probably shock. I looked past him at Aeron and Marius. Sudden anger burned through me. They were stopping me from getting to my children.
The red glow at my fingers became stronger as my fury rose. Marius looked wary and turned to say something to Aeron, they started backing off and then turned to go. I reached out, I didn’t want them to leave, I wanted them to be punished. The red glow was surrounding my hand now.
Damon’s hand tightened around my wrist and his voice in my head said ‘No. Leave them Phoebe. They are unarmed now.
Best chance we have then I thought back it’s not like they would have stopped. And they deserve it.
No. You are better than that.
It took a bit of effort but I turned my head away from their retreating figures and met his eyes again. If he’d looked at me sternly I think I would have ignored him. It was the understanding and sympathy I saw there that stopped me. That brought the calm back. The red died away and my arm dropped back to my side. I felt like crying.
Honestly it’s quite a lot to deal with to go from ordinary person one day to crazy magic lady the next.
I looked over at Eru. He looked like I felt. Totally overwhelmed. Mind still not quite accepting what was happening. It’ll be worse for him too, I thought. At least I can hear the voices and feel the energy. He’s just trying to cope while all around him is chaos. And for the sole reason that he’s helping his friend. A friend who, out of the blue, has started glowing.
I smiled weakly at Eru. ‘Crazy times huh?’
He looked sardonically at me. “You have no freaking idea, babe. No Freaking Idea.”
From Light Breaks, the incomplete first draft of an urban fantasy and my first NaNoWriMo project. It has quite a different tone from my recent works so although it needs a LOT of work I thought I’d share it too.