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Well, it's been a long damn while since I've written a dang thing. It feels good to be back in the saddle, although I might be a bit rusty. SO, I'm going to make it a goal to participate in Chuck Wendig's weekly writing challenges. I've done a few of his prompts in the past (two years ago already--OH MY!), but I'm going to strive to make it a weekly ritual to get back on a regular writing schedule. 

Anyway, this week's challenge was to visit They Fight Crime and find a combination of characters to write a 1,500 short story about. These are the ones I chose: 


He’s a sharp-shooting paranormal investigator with a bag full of used knickers.

 

She’s a mistrustful war veteran from another dimension. 


Together, they fight crime!

__________________


 “Look alive, Evie darlin'!”

 

It was just enough warning to give Evie time to duck before three bullets whizzed past her head. They swished her snow white  hair as they sped ahead, missing her ear by the grace of God, but if this bothered her she certainly didn’t show it.

 

The thing in the shadows howled with agony and the darkness grew just a tad denser. The bedroom at the end of the hallway was no longer visible and the soft cries coming from it were no longer audible. 

 

“Weeeeeeee doggy!” Pierre yodeled in his thick Texan drawl. He reloaded quickly, the empty salt-coated shells hitting the floor with musical clinking.  “Hunny, I daresay we dun got ourselves a mighty fine brute on our hands. Mighty fine brute, indeedy!”

 

“So it would seem,” Evie deadpanned. “The poor thing.”

 

Her lack of enthusiasm was always a tad disappointing, but Ol’ Pierre couldn’t really blame her now, could he? Evie was a complicated little lady. Hell- her name wasn’t even really Evie.  She had another name entirely back in that other place from whence she came. She told him her real name once-- a long time ago when they first met-- but it was very long and damn near impossible to pronounce.  Pierre, already an old man at the time, couldn’t be bothered to wrap his tongue around the otherworldly sounds. So she became Evie. It sounded exactly nothing like her real name. She just looked like an Evie.  She didn’t seem to mind it. Or at least, Pierre never heard her complain about it.

 

Her aloofness could be nice at times though, as she handled Pierre’s more eccentric quirks better than most people might.

 

The old geezer plunged his hand deep into his deerskin satchel and rummaged frantically. After a moment, he withdrew a worn piece of fabric that looked suspiciously like used panties. He buried his face in the suspect garment and inhaled deeply.  A small shiver wracked his withered frame. Evie bared this with indulgent patience. It was his ritual, strange though it might be, and she had to respect that.  

 

He shoved the garment into the pockets of his white-washed denim, and raised his weapon again: locked and loaded. “Evie, be a doll, do an ol’ man a pretty favor by doin’ what you do best.”

 

“With pleasure,” the corners of her lips quirked into a dangerous little smirk and she crouched like a jaguar. The next moment she was down the hall with alarming speed, her special knives drawn, pulsing with their mysterious glow. 

 

Watching her speed towards the inky blackness of pure evil, Pierre’s grin was all gums and dangly teeth. Those exceptional knives of hers, god bless them, were two more reasons he was glad to have Evie around.  He didn’t quite understand them, but they certainly got the job done.

 

She disappeared into the shadows. A pregnant silence followed. Then, the darkness roared with a deafening intensity. The floorboards began rattling wildly. The ire and hatred was palpable and for a moment it swelled terribly, spreading across the wall, over the picture frames, turning the eyes in the family photographs yellow, red, and all matter of poisonous colors. They reached desperately for Pierre, the oily tendrils turning into a great, smoky hand. In the center of the palm was the slightest suggestion of some great, all-seeing eye.  And within the depths of that fathomless pupil, Pierre could make out the wiry angles and sallow cheeks of his wife. Her gray eyes vacant and lost. She looked at him, without really seeing him. She demanded to know who he was. She had never seen him before in her life. Painful tears pricked his rheumy eyes and all his previous gusto abandoned him. Suddenly he felt a thousand years old. It was a memory stolen from the darkest time of his life, those years of watching his beloved’s mind wither and decay until there was nothing left at all but cobwebs and dust.  

 

God-forsaken mother fucker, he growled. These things—these wretched nightmares-- played with their victim’s heart. They scoured for the most tender, exposed nerve and put a white-hot iron straight through it.

 

Before the fingers could wrap themselves around his throat, Pierre fired his weapon. The giant hand dispersed in a plume of smog, but not before Pierre got to see the bullet tear through his wife’s chest.

 

Memory of your wife. He corrected himself. As real as a mirage in the middle of the Sahara at high noon, and you’d do well to remember it, ol’ pal.”  

 

The darkness began to recede, like a big black lake being sucked down a drain. The roars died away, replaced by soft, sweet humming coming from the room at the end of the hallway.  It was a child’s bedroom, a little girl’s room by the looks of it, messy too. A slew of Barbie dolls littered the floor in their stylish dresses and fancy sports cars, and Pierre had to step gingerly to keep from treading on any tiny plastic pieces from their little make-believe paradise.

 

The periwinkle walls were covered with crayon pictures drawn with the fearless, unapologetic strokes which only children seem to be capable of. Pierre stopped in his pursuit of the humming to examine one of the drawings. There was a stick-figure woman, as indicated by the little wisps curling out from the jagged circle of her head. Though her eyes were mere dots and her mouth only a down-turned squiggle, she seemed dreadfully sad. A stroke of red blossomed in the middle of her forehead and spilled down her body and then covered the page with wild, angry lines. The only other place where there was no red was occupied by a much smaller version of the stick-figured woman. The child had big blue tear drops in her eyes and on her face. It seemed impossible that such scant shapes drawn by the hands of a child could convey such terrible sorrow. 

 

Unable to look at it any longer, Pierre tore himself away and continued. The humming came from a woman resting on the bed, among the pillows beneath the sheer, pink canopy. She had one of those timeless faces that could have either been eighteen or thirty. Her chestnut curls spilled in perfect ringlets over her shoulders. She rocked back and forth rhythmically as she cooed, cradling a little girl protectively against her chest. The child could not have been more than seven and she peered at the woman with loving adoration. Her eyes were very large and puffy.  Wet  tracks ran down the side of her face where tears had recently fallen.

 

As he approached, the woman eyed his front pocket disapprovingly. Pierre obliged her and shoved the all-but forgotten garment back into his satchel out of respect. The time for crudity had passed. The fight was over. They had won.

 

He knelt beside the pair. He didn’t dare join them on the bed. He doubted there would ever be a time that Evie did not impress him with her uncanny ability to find such peace in chaos. She had told him before that, where she came from, she had been part of a team of specialists. Dream alchemists. Nocturnal warriors. They had been known by many names.  They took over when bad dreams turned to terrors and the terrors turned the dreamer into something evil. But, the war against nightmares could not be fought with the nightmares of war. So, in instead they were replaced with better, happier dreams. Evie had described it as precise, surgical work. You have to cut out everything that is toxic and sick, she had once said. And then you have to replace it with something healthy and good. Just like a kidney transplant, and just as fickle. Sometimes there is just nothing that can be done. Sometimes the fear is just too great. Her eyes had darkened then, like a seasoned war veteran remembering her time in the trenches.  

 

When Pierre spoke to the woman, it was barely above a whisper. “Ya really outdone yerself this time, Evie.” His eyes were glistening. “Such a lovely vision to give her. Much better n’ the nasty one.” He thought of the drawing and shuddered. “She deserves a sweet dream of her momma.”

 

Even through the illusion she wore, Evie looked exhausted. She glanced at the wall covered in pictures with wary mistrust. “I’m afraid this one is far from over. In fact, I’m not sure that it will ever be over for her.” The little girl was sleeping soundly now.

 

“But it’s over for now, isn’t it?”

 

“Yes, for now it is over.”

 

“Then we best be gettin’ home.”

 

Evie nodded, and then they both woke up.

 

 

 

 

 

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mickienotthemouse

May 2016

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