The Man In The White Robes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story acting as a prelude to a much longer book which is in the works. Enjoy and as always, if you have any suggestions, I'm more than happy to take them onboard.

Time’s annoying. In a way, time is all we have, yet I find it always drags. Nothing else I have drags. There’s the phrase “to kill time”, which is something most people in western civilisation do on a regular basis. If time is all we have, should we be killing it so carelessly? Surely this is a dilemma. That’s the way I look at it anyway. I was contemplating this dilemma as I sat in my leather swivel chair. I like to remain comfortable when I contemplate various problems, and there is nothing more comfortable to me than my leather swivel chair. I spun left and right at random, thinking about what to do with my evening. A rather pointless activity, considering the clock above me said it was three in the morning. Undeterred, I spun faster, therefore increasing the speed of my thought process. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

It was a tedious sort of morning, one that followed a particularly tedious evening, the majority of which was spent throwing cheese flavoured snacks at a target, hastily drawn in marker pen on my old TV, and glugging dangerous amounts of chemically enhanced soft drinks. Still, I thought, at least nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

The phone rang.

Fuck.

It was rare that my phone would ring with good news these days. Hell, sometimes it wasn’t even mere bad news. My mind flashed back to the time my phone tried to take a bite out of my ear. Technically I started the incident by calling it a bastard, but still, that sort of shit shouldn’t happen. I looked to see who was ringing. My heart sank slightly.

“Hello Seb!”

“Leo,” came a wheezy voice, “got a bit of a problem!” This was followed by a series of smashing sounds, interspersed with screaming.

“Where are you?” I asked calmly. Knowing Seb, he was making the noises himself for effect.

“You know the old house just on the turnoff to [location name removed for privacy]?” I did, but said nothing. “Well,” he continued, “we could sure use your help down here!” More smashing.

I sighed and rubbed my forehead. Suddenly, I felt a fondness for the tedious nature of my morning. At least I couldn’t die whilst sitting in my chair. Touch wood.

“Okay, I’m on my way!”

“Awesome, bring sandwiches!” He hung up.

I looked at my phone and sat back. Great, I thought, another fun filled evening, most likely culminating in a shouting contest between Seb and his assailant, as I tried to dismiss myself from the proceedings quietly. As I stood up, my phone rang again. I looked down. Seb, calling once again, probably to ensure I bring beverages as well. I answered.

“I’m on my way!”

“What? To mine? Weird! Have you gone all psychic on me?” he asked, with notable excitement in his voice, which was, frankly, hard to miss. It was also notable that there was no background noise, no violent crashing, nothing out of the ordinary.

“No, I’m coming to the house!” I said, annoyed that he’d already forgotten our previous conversation.

“The house?”

“Yeah, you just called me!”

A pause.

“I did?” He sounded as confused as I felt.

“You just called from that old house on the way to [location name removed for privacy]. You said you needed help and sandwiches.”

“Huh, that’s bizarre.” He said, “You just called me. You said nothing weird was happening and that I should go to sleep.”

“Well I didn’t call you!” I already knew what was happening, but I always felt it was best to let him catch on by himself. “Why’d you call me just now if you were told to go to bed?”

“I was wondering if you wanted go online and play videogames for a while. Sometimes it helps me sleep!”

Sometimes, I swear, it’s like being in ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’.

“Well, I didn’t call you to tell you to go to sleep.” I was annoyed now. “Okay, so obviously something or someone is out there who can mimic us. They called both of us with different stories to keep us apart. To make it easier when it came to killing us probably.”

“That’s weird and kind of bothersome. Do you think it’s something we’ve already gone up against?”

“No way, anything that’s met us knows we’re useless as a team. Maybe it’s a bounty hunter or something.”

“Wallace?” asked Seb.

I stopped dead. I thought over what we’d done, over the past few months, who we’d met, what they thought of us.

“No, this isn’t Wallace’s style; he’d want to do it personally. Why hire someone to do a job you’re perfectly capable of carrying out yourself?”

“Well maybe it’s not what we think! What if--“

Here we go.

“--we’ve fallen into a time pocket and at some point in the future, I phone you for help?”

Damn, I thought, why is he obsessed with time pockets?

“Look, for now, let’s just assume the worst, that usually works out nicely for us.” I looked around for my coat. “I’m coming over to yours, and then we’re going after this bastard!”

“What?” the response of a man who was just told his house was burnt down by his dog. “Can’t we just play videogames?”

“No, I’m pissed off now! This guy tried to play us like suckers,” a phrase, I should mention, that I have never used before in my life. Apparently, I was part of the 50’s mafia. Who knew? “I want some payback!”

“Okay. Um, are we bringing Clementine in on this one?” he asked earnestly. In his mind, more people involved means he’s less likely to get injured. Can’t blame him for trying, right?

“No, she’s not involved in this yet, no need to put her in any danger.” I heard a very audible sigh on the other end. I ignored it and grabbed my coat, slipping it over my shoulder, a difficult feat when holding a phone to you ear. “Right, I’m going to set off now. Do you have your gun?”

“Yeah, but I thought we weren’t using those anymore.” There was a hint of fear in his voice, likely brought on by the time I shout him. Big wuss.

“We might need them. Don’t worry; it won’t be exactly like last time.”

“Fair enough. See you in a bizzle!”

I pointed viciously at the phone, merely for my own enjoyment.

“Keep saying bizzle, and I will shoot you again! See you in a bit!” I hung up.


The cold air was harsh, biting at the bare patches of skin I had left uncovered by cosy fabrics. I pulled my hat down low, which pushed my hair into my eye. I brushed it aside with a gloved hand and wrapped my coat around myself tightly. The town was nearly silent; the glow of street lamps and neon signs in the takeaway windows illuminated the tarmac pavement stretching before me. A faint buzz from the local pub where a live music act was playing reached me. I pulled a face and tugged my scarf over my ears. I’m unjustly intolerant of various noises, I’ll admit, but a live rendition of ‘Witch Doctor’ accompanied by inebriated cheering? Surely I could be forgiven for swearing under my breath and quickening my pace. I walked past blank shop fronts and empty display windows, establishments hit by the economic crisis in its early stages. I’d say something meaningful or poignant, but I doubt anyone would miss the ‘Rubber Lovin’’ sex shop or the cheap looking ‘Bargen Boose’. Their spelling, not mine. I turned the corner onto Seb’s street and walked up the driveway to his door. His house stood out amongst others, considerably so. The Christmas lights weren’t that odd at this time of the year, it just looked like he’d put them up early, but since he hadn’t taken them down in two years, you could understand why his neighbours tried to start a petition to have the council remove the bright lights and plastic ‘Merry Christmas’ signs. I knocked on the door. A sound sensitive device picked up on the rapping of my hand against the wood and began to play a rousing, albeit tinny rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’. The door opened. The afro headed figure that I knew as Seb stood before me, a huge grin on his face.

“I love this song!” he exclaimed, doing a little jig.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,” I punched the speaker, causing the music to distort and eventually cease, “you’ll change your tune when the neighbourhood residents turn up with Molotov cocktails and cricket bats!” I stepped into the house and slumped into the closest chair. “Got any Pepsi Max?”

“No, sorry.” He wasn’t. I surveyed the room. Open space, comfortable seating, wooden table (ideal for chips, dip and pizza) and a television far too large for mere mortal perception. You know the type; you have to sit in another room just to ensure you don’t go blind whilst watching. Under the set lay the latest consoles in the Xbox and PlayStation range. Three shelves stood to the left of the ‘entertainment centre’, filled with games for both systems. It was a gaming haven, even if I do say so myself. Seb sat on the sofa just across from me. “We don’t have to go, you know.”

“Yes we do!” I was determined. I pulled my gun out of my coat pocket, a slick little Browning L9A1 I came across on one of our little escapades. Instinctively, Seb grabbed his (SIG P226) and aimed it at me. I raised a calming hand and released the magazine. Three rounds. “Got any ammo?” I asked hopefully. Seb shook his head.

“No extra ammo. Four rounds in my mag, that’s it.” He sat back and let out a long breath, indicating without any subtlety that he was tired and didn’t want to go anywhere. I was going to tell him to drink some coffee when I heard footsteps behind me. Being the jumpy and irrational person I am, I jumped from my seat, spun around and fired. Clementine, or Clem for short, stood in the kitchen doorway, looking very, VERY angry, a smoking hole in the wall next to her head.

“WHAT THE FUCK?” she shouted.

“MY WALL!” cried Seb.

“Hey, my aim’s getting better!” I said happily. My smile faded when Clem walked past and gave me a dead arm.

“Yeah, really good, if only I’d jumped to the left about two feet!” She sat down in my chair and threw what appeared to be a doughnut to Seb. I decided against asking for one.

“Sorry,” I said in an empty voice, “Why are you here again?” She turned to me and grimaced. A look of contempt, reserved only for those who she truly despised. “Not that it’s unpleasant to see you and all that.” I added quickly.

“I got a call from a guy claiming to be you. He said that Seb was being eaten headfirst and that you both needed help, said you were at--”

“--The old house on the way to [location name removed for privacy]?” I finished for her.

“Yeah, exactly.” She said. “Was it actually you?” She turned to study Seb, as if expecting to see a large bite mark or a missing chunk of head.

“No, but I got a similar call.” I paused. Something about this didn’t feel quite right. I walked to the window and glanced outside. Nothing. Not even a breeze. For some reason, this made me feel more nervous. “I’m guessing Seb filled you in on my whole bounty hunter theory?” She nodded.

“So this guy just wants you two dead?” said Seb, a little too cheerfully for my liking. Until now, I thought that’s what this guy wanted, but everything felt wrong now. Why bring Clem into this? She’s tougher than both of us combined. That definitely wouldn’t help the chances of any potential killer. I look to her. She had the same look of realisation on her face that I assumed I had.

“Problem?” I asked. My stomach turned.

The lights went out

“Problem!” said Clem from across the room.

A shattering sound.

Pain in my shoulder.

I fell to the floor, whispering various profanities and what I swear were the lyrics to ‘Safety Dance’ by Men without Hats.

Blackness.


Consciousness slipping back. Pain growing in my shoulder. Shirt wet, sticking to my chest. I snapped my eyes open. I was being dragged up some stairs.

“Actually, this hurts!” I said to myself, in a nonchalant manner, in the same way I’d comment on the weather. Maybe I was in shock. The dragging stopped and suddenly Seb and Clem were looking at me. “What’s going on?”

“Okay, don’t freak out!” said Clem, who was clearly freaking out whilst looking at my shoulder. I looked down to see six inches of shiny metal protruding from my flesh, covered in dark blood. I made a soft but manly whimpering sound.

“Oooooh, why?” I said. Yeah, I was definitely in shock.

“This thing came through the window. I think it was meant for Seb!” said Clem. I struggled, trying to get to my feet. Seb patted me just above the blade. I screamed.

“Thanks for that buddy,” he said, “I owe you one!”

“Fuck you!” I hissed through gritted teeth. His smile faltered.

“No need for that!” He sounded upset. Good, at least I was still my regular offensive self. I pushed myself up with my good arm and stood at the top of the stairs.

“Pardon my use of profane language, but can one of you take this mother fucking knife out of my shoulder, if it’s not too much trouble!” I slumped against the wall as they moved behind me. Sharp blinding pain suddenly hit me. My hearing deteriorated, leaving only a ringing sound. I looked down to the see the blade sliding into my shoulder. Very slowly. Too slowly. With a shout, I took a vow to make these two pay for letting me stand by the window at that exact point in time and slammed my shoulder against the wall, knocking the weapon out of the wound. I fell to the floor panting. My forehead was sweating, stinging my eyes. Blood was flowing from my shoulder at an unhealthy pace. Is there a healthy pace for blood to pour from the human body? I grabbed Seb by the collar.

“Towel!” I grunted. He rushed off. I turned to Clem. “Okay, talk!”

“We looked out when you fainted--”

“Passed out!”

“--and saw our mystery caller. He looked scared when he saw the two of us, started running like someone had opened fire. I think that’s why he called you and me, to make sure we wouldn’t be here when he attacked Seb.”

“Oh, Miss states-the-obvious strikes again!”

“Shut up!” She fell back. She was shaking, like she was in shock. This irritated me more than it should have. She hadn’t been skewered, why was she in shock?

“Why did this asshole call us in the first place? I was going to stay in tonight, and I’m guessing you were too!” She started to say something, but I cut her off. “Okay, you might have been doing something more interesting, but you probably had no urge to come here until he called, right?” Seb arrived with the towel, which I pressed to stem the blood flow.

“The guy was wearing white clothes in the dark, he hit you instead of his actual target and he didn’t come in a vehicle. I’m guessing he’s not the most efficient killer in the business.” I looked down, and then back up.

“Hang on,” I said, “if you got a call from him that sounded like I was asking for help at the house on the way to [location name removed for privacy], why’d you come here instead?”

“Oh,” her eyes shifted slightly, “well, I figured if something had eaten Seb’s head, he wouldn’t miss his PlayStation.” Seb looked at her, appalled, whilst I started laughing. It hurt, but it was totally worth it.

“Oh, you suck!” he snarled. I snorted in response.

“Like you wouldn’t have done the same if it was the other way around!” I threw the towel at him. “Do you still have that healing shit? The stuff from when Wallace set me on fire?” He thought for a moment.

“I do, but I wanted to save it for an emergency.” If my arm wasn’t numb, I’d have slapped him. He caught the look on my face and got up to find it.

“Wallace set you on fire?” Clem raised her eyebrows.

“That surprises you?” I sat up, looking around. The light was still out. “So, you didn’t chase my would-be killer?”

“He ran! It’s not like we could just leave you. Seb’s carpet was expensive apparently; he didn’t want blood stains all over it.” She said indignantly. Seb walked back in with a small tub, sort of like a Vaseline jar. It was about a fifth full of a pale red gel-like substance. I grabbed it and dipped my finger in. A wonderful sensation passed over my hand, like it was in the warm sun in some tropical country. I felt calmed. I rubbed the glob I had removed from the tub onto the open wound, immediately feeling a lot better. The torn skin and muscle began to contract and ripple, the blood drying under the gel, flaking away and dissolving to nothing. The two sides of the opening began to seam together, as if an invisible being were stitching it closed. Satisfied with the progress of my healing, I pulled my coat back on.

“Oh god damn!” I grumbled, poking a finger through the hole in each layer of my clothing. I looked up. “Either of you know how to sew?”


I wanted to take a shower, just to warm myself up, but Seb said he didn’t want another man to get naked in his house. He claimed it was in case any paparazzi were watching us from outside. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that, despite his efforts to tell our stories to various media sources, we weren’t famous enough to warrant a swarm of peeping photographers. Unfortunately, Clem didn’t feel the same way and blatantly told him there were tribes in the rainforest that were more famous than us. Whilst there was some truth to this, it was unnecessary. He seemed to be more irritated by this than upset and went into a sulk, giving me the opportunity to sneak back upstairs and wash. Oh, and for good measure, draw as many obscene images onto his mirror as possible, just to freak him out when he next showers. Honestly, he once thought ghosts were flirting with him. I felt refreshed and calmed. Amazing what a good shower can do. I stood by the mirror, staring at my own reflection. Definitely need to lose some weight and cut my hair, I thought. I prodded at the area where the blade had entered. There was a faint scar, light pink against my fairly pale skin. My shoulder had a dull ache, similar to the twinge you get when you start lifting weights for the first time in six months. I shrugged it off and got dressed. My hair dangled down across my face, still damp, as I hopped down the stairs. Whilst I like to think it gives me the tousled rebellious look, I’ve been told it comes across as more of a sweaty tramp look. I only remembered this when I reached the bottom of the stairs, where I hastily started scraping my hair back behind my ears. Clem and Seb were playing a videogame, something with lots of swords and Greek soldiers. I walked to my chair and sat down to watch. It was honestly hard to tell what was really going on, there were too many limbs and too much gore flying across the screen.

“So what now?” I asked quietly.

“TIS NOT DOWN TO US TO DECIDE,” announced Seb suddenly, causing Clem to jump slightly. I shut my eyes. “ALMIGHTY ZEUS SHALL SHOW US THE WAY!” I silently counted to ten, hoping to avoid an aneurism.

“Seb, calm down,” I said steadily, “can we please focus on the situation at hand?” Clem fell back against the rear cushion of the sofa. Seb stood and turned off his game.

“How can we help you, mighty warrior, for we serve the Gods, and the Gods shine favour upon you?” He knelt in front of me, as if waiting to be knighted. I stopped myself from telling him his very loud English accent probably wouldn’t get him far in ancient Greece, and got to my feet.

“Okay, so can we safely assume that our little friend is at the house we got called about?” I held up a hand as Seb began to speak, a look on his face that told me he had a hearty speech prepared. I turned to Clem and gestured for her to answer instead.

“Well,” said Clem wearily, “we can’t assume anything. The man who was here wasn’t careful. He didn’t plan ahead and he was generally pretty useless!”

“Sounds like us!” I joked. Seb raised a hand in silence and we high fived. Clem carried on, as if it hadn’t happened.

“I can predict the movements of a professional, I know how they think.” I didn’t ask how she knew these things, she’ll never tell me. “This guy? He’s not good at his job. He’s unpredictable. I don’t know where he’ll be.”

“Right.” I rubbed my chin. Need to shave. “We need someone who’s as useless as him. Someone who manages to mess up everything they get involved in. We need someone so bad at what they do, they can tell us where they’d be in this situation.” I looked back and forth between them. They were staring at me silently. “What?”

“Well,” said Seb, “where would you go?” I grabbed a cushion and threw it at his head, missing spectacularly. There was an awkward silence.

“Okay, fine, let’s go and check out the house!”

“PRAISE BE TO OLYMPUS!” I had the sudden urge to shoot myself.

I would have liked to have driven to the house in silence. Unfortunately, Seb insisted on bringing his ‘Car Journey Mix’ along for the ride. It was his car, so we couldn’t exactly argue. Instead, we rode along to the sound of ‘Master of Puppets’. Not the original Metallica version, the Trivium cover. We had to get him to stop head banging at least four times, as he was driving. Eventually we told him to pull over and Clem drove the rest of the way, leaving Seb to flail about madly in the back seat, switching rapidly between air-guitar and air-drums. I stared out of the window for most of the journey, thinking over a plan that probably wouldn’t work, scrapping it and making another plan that was a little more reliable. It mainly involved me using the other two as human shields whilst I shot at our adversary. Who knows, I might find something heavy to throw at him, like a brick or a limb. I turned to Seb, who was in full air-band mode now.

“Hey!” I shouted over the music. He didn’t respond. “ASSHOLE!” He looked up, leant forward and turned off the music.

“What?”

“You brought your gun, right?”

“Of course.” He produced the weapon from his jacket pocket.

“Give me the bullets.” I extended a hand. He pulled a face, almost like that of a child who’s been told to go to bed early.

“I need them. What if I have to shoot something?” he whined. I rolled my eyes.

“Look, if one gun has all the bullets, that means we’re being less wasteful.” He looked confused. “What I mean is, if we both start shooting at the same time, we’re going to run out really quickly. But if I have all the bullets, I’ll only be firing one at a time.” I know, this wasn’t really sound logic and I’m a terrible shot, but I wanted more ammo. Luckily, Seb didn’t realise I was full of shit and reluctantly handed over his gun. I released the magazine and popped out the bullets into my hand one by one, then loaded them into my own gun.

“Cool, so we’ve got seven shots, right?” said Seb.

“Yeah.” I replied, before correcting myself. “No, wait. We’ve got six. I shot at Clem, remember?”

“I fucking do, yes!” said Clem sternly. I felt her staring at me angrily. I tried to ignore it.

“Right, so six shots.” said Seb.

“Right.” We were so screwed. I didn’t say anything, but any faith I had in myself went out the window hours ago.

“Can I turn the music back on now?” said Seb, not waiting for a response as he leant over and turned his CD back on. After a fair amount of time, during which Clem pulled over and punched Seb in the mouth for grabbing the back of her seat and shaking it violently, we arrived at the house on the turnoff to [location name removed for privacy]. It was a two storey building; abandoned for years after the family who lived there lost their son. Seb told me he was eaten by a lion that escaped from the local zoo, but I learnt long ago to take Sebs stories with a pinch of salt. I read soon after that he was killed in an attempted break-in by two thieves on the run from the police. Tragic really, even more so when you realise that Seb told everyone he knew that the official report was a cover-up by zoo officials. I opened my door and stepped out of the car. The ground was covered in long grass, which crunched beneath my feet as I walked to the door with Clem. Seb followed slowly, fiddling with what appeared to be his iPod. I looked at him silently. He noticed me looking and smiled.

“Hey, if things go nuts in there, I may need background music!” There was no arguing with his logic. Things were probably going to get nutty and background music would have been nice. I made a mental note to bring a music player next time. I walked to the window and peered in. The place was falling apart inside. The walls were dirty and cracked, with blackened patches, like someone had started a fire inside that had gone horribly wrong. Probably squatters or something. I faced my two friends.

“Okay, we don’t know who this guy is, where or when he’s come from and we have one weapon.”

“Nope,” said Clem happily, “make that two weapons.” At that point, she drew what I can only describe as a fucking big knife from the back of her jeans. Well, okay, it was either a fucking big knife or a fucking average machete. Either way, it was a terrifying sight to behold, particularly when she widened her eyes. It made her look psychotic, though I didn’t say anything.

“Where the hell did that come from?” I asked, as calmly as I could. Hell, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted a response, it was really just force of habit. You’d understand if you were friends with these people.

“Ebay.”

Of course.

“Excellent!” I said, with mock enthusiasm, “Are you any good with it?” She turned on her heel and strolled towards the front door. Before I could stop her, she started hacking at it. Chunks of wood splintered away as she grunted heavily. Seb and I stood back, eyes wide. When she finished demolishing our point of entry, I gave her a smile. “Good job!” I patted her on the back and moved past her into the house. Seb walked in behind me, followed by Clem, who was walking backwards, brandishing her blade like some kind of ancient warrior. I swear, sometimes I think she’d be more comfortable if she’d been born in 1200 AD or something. I looked around the entrance hall. No lights on the ceiling or walls. I lifted my gun to shoulder height and pointed it in the direction of the nearest doorway. “Now, remember guys, this thing we’re after? We don’t know where he’s from or what he can do, so let’s not let him surprise us, okay?”

“Right!” said Seb

“Roger that!” whispered Clem.

Then a lion walked through the doorway. No bullshit here, a fully grown African lion, staring straight at me, growling softly. It licked its lips and prowled around us to the other side of the room. I was frozen. What was I going to do, shoot it? For all I knew, I’d just be pissing it off. Seb broke the silence.

“Oh man, I knew it!”


This moment of idiocy seemed to pull me out of my fear induced paralysis.

“MOVE!” I shouted, aiming the gun at the beast before me. It roared and leapt in my direction. I fired wildly, pulling the trigger twice. I didn’t even know if the bullets had made an impact, I was already running the other way. Seb dived through the open doorway into what I assumed was the living room, whilst Clem stood her ground at the front door. She waved the knife harshly, yelling various curse words. I thought this would at least distract the brute long enough for me to find another exit and drive away as fast as I could, but no. The bastard completely ignored her and honed in on me. I continued to sprint through the kitchen, around a central counter area and back through into the entrance hall, all whilst being chased by a large cat that had no business being in England at all. “CLEM, GUN!” I shouted, throwing her the Browning. She caught it gracefully, aimed and shot the lion. I heard a grunt, followed by a loud thud. I turned mid-run to see the lion on its side. I should mention that I didn’t stop running and subsequently ran into a wall. Luckily nothing was bruised but my ego and that was bad enough. I fell onto my back and quickly rolled over to see where the lion was. I spotted a long tail slinking round the corner into the kitchen. I pushed myself to my feet and rubbed my face which had impacted rather harshly with brick and plaster. Clem struck a pose, similar to that of a character from an 80’s movie. Annoyed that she was milking this for more than it was worth, I took the gun from her and checked the magazine. Three rounds left. Better make them count, I thought. Seb wandered into the room, looking tired and dusty. I nodded to him. He nodded back.

“You okay?” I asked

“Yeah, I’m fine. There was a sofa in there. I managed to land on the cushions.”

Damn, why is everyone else okay?

“Okay, so that was a bit bizarre.” I said, concerned that such a thing had been allowed to occur. “What now?”

“Well,” said Seb, “there’s a lion in the kitchen and a glowing portal thingy in the living room.” Clem and I stared at him silently. “Oh, sorry, I was going to mention it, but I just, sort of, didn’t.” He smiled and shrugged. A ‘what-are-you-gonna-do-eh’ shrug. I went to punch him, but Clem grabbed my arm in mid swing.

“Look, deal with him later, let’s just get a grasp on things.” She gestured to me to go into the living room. I shook my head and gestured for her to go in instead. We did this for longer than I’d care to say. Eventually, I yielded and walked through the doorway. Sure enough, right there, in the centre of the room, was a large, foggy portal. What’s best way I can describe a portal to another universe? It’s sort of similar to when a room’s full of gas. The air sort of ripples, as if intense heat is rising from the floor below. You can’t see what’s on the other side of it, but when you step into the middle, you’re taken to the corresponding portal. There’s no initiation sequence or magic word to get there, it just happens. Believe me; the first time it happens to you, it’s annoying.

“Okay, so maybe he’s already gone back through.” I said thoughtfully.

“Yeah, and when he got there, he sent through the lion, right?” said Clem. I turned and stroked my chin. Something didn’t add up. These things don’t just pop up at random in abandoned buildings; they’re usually opened by someone. The gimmick with portals is that they close once the person who opened them goes through. So, I thought, why open a whole new portal just to send a lion through? Was this guy just going to hope for the best and pray that no-one stumbles upon it ever again?

“Guys,” came Sebs voice, “I think you should come and take a look at this.” I looked at Clem, seeing an expression of concern or fear on her face, and walked through to the kitchen. There, I saw Seb standing against a wall, and in front of him, instead of a lion, was a tall, pale man, wearing white robes. He was holding a hand against a gunshot wound to his chest, and was breathing erratically.

“Huh,” I said casually, “a shape shifter. That’s new.” He coughed, a spray of blood shooting from his mouth, and started chuckling, a hollow, wet chuckle.

“Fools, I am merely the first of many.” He whispered in a deep voice.

“Oh, sorry, you’re not the first. This happens more than you’d think.” said Seb. “So, what’s your beef with us?” I looked at him. He’d never asked anyone what their ‘beef’ was. I wasn’t even sure what he meant, though apparently the pale, robed fellow on the floor either didn’t hear him or was ignoring him.

“You have faced me,” he coughed, “now you must face my clan.”

Seb’s face lit up.

“He doesn’t mean a gaming clan!” I said, pre-empting the stupidity. His face dropped. I stepped forward and knelt next to the dying man.

“Tell me something; you’ve heard of us, right?” I asked. He nodded grimly. “Right, so you know we use these cool little gizmos?” I grabbed the gun from Clem’s hand and waved it in his face. Again, he nodded. “Okay, so if you can shape shift, why not become something that, say, is immune to bullets?”

His eyes narrowed.

Moron.

I stood up and walked past Clem and Seb. They turned as I moved to the exit.

“What do you want to do with him?” said Seb quietly. I stopped and swivelled.

“You got anything you want to tell us?” I asked, looking at our new enemy. He laughed and spat at me. It fell short, splattering across the floor, leaving a bloody streak in front of me. I looked to Seb. “Wait for him to die or kill him. We’re throwing him back into his world. They can deal with him.” I threw the gun to Clem, feeling it would be counter-productive for me or Seb to shoot him, as we only had three bullets left and we didn’t need to waste them. She stepped forwards, aimed the gun at his head and cocked the hammer. I stopped myself from telling her that you don’t need to do that to make it work.

“Hope the food isn’t too spicy for you,” she whispered, “IN HELL!” She fired. I watched as his face caved in and his head exploded. It creeped me out the way she relished these things, but I let her be. I didn’t need her shooting me as well. We all looked at each other and said nothing.


It didn’t take long to ditch the body. Turns out he was pretty light. Seb did most of the lifting, whilst Clem and I discussed other potential one-liners she could have used. As predicted, once he was back through the portal to his own world, the air became still once more and we were able to leave the house nearly guilt free. We all piled in the car and drove away from the scene. We remained silent for the majority of the journey until we reached the traffic lights in the centre of town.

“Anyone want a burger?” I said. My voice was hoarse from all the shouting and panicking. The other two just smiled. Clem hit the indicator and turned towards the local burger establishment. Regrettably, it wasn’t until we arrived at our intended location that we realised it was now six in the morning and, therefore, the burger place was closed. Annoyed, we drove away. Clem drove to her house first, which I pointed out was sort of selfish, as she was driving, but she ignored me and got out of the car.

“See you guys,” she said, grinning. “Call me if anything else happens that might be fun!” I couldn’t tell if this was sarcasm or not. She closed the door and walked up to her house. Seb shifted over to the driver seat, and I jumped into the passenger side. We said nothing as he drove me to my house. As we arrived, he turned to me, a grim look on his face.

“What did he mean?”

“What did who mean?” I asked blankly, not really paying attention.

“The robed guy. He said he was the first of many and that he had a clan.” He looked genuinely worried. This almost never happened. “I’m guessing real clans are like gaming clans, right?”

“How so? They’re all twelve and they call each other gay without actually knowing what the word means?”

“I mean, do real clans have lots of people aiming for the same goal?”

I didn’t answer. I didn’t want to actually say what I was thinking out loud. My silence said everything though. He turned and looked at the sky. The sun was rising, and the distinct lack of clouds made this morning seem almost hopeful and safe.

“Look, go home and sleep. If something else happens, we’ll deal with it. That’s what we do.” I yawned and opened my door.

“We’re screwed, right?”

I sighed and turned back.

“Yep, pretty much.”

We both laughed. I got out and waved as he reversed, turned and drove down the street. I looked up at the sun again. Truly a sight to behold, even after a night like this. I went inside, shrugged my coat off, collapsed onto the bed and drifted to sleep.


Submitted: July 21, 2011

© Copyright 2021 Leo Dukes. All rights reserved.

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