Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 10: Breakfast on the Grill

Beneath the gleaming skyscrapers and picturesque facade of the City of Redemption lies another city; a community of dark and ancient magic populated by creatures of the night. Dark Redemption is a shared-world novel based on an online role-playing game by James Crowther.

Strephon MacKenzie, a half-fae living among mortals, has taken reporter Cassandra True home after the two of them were attacked by werewolves. The terror of the attack lingered and Strephon found himself entering Cassandra's dreams to help her defeat her fears.

Sunlight streaming through the window woke Strephon. He squinted at the new day and fidgeted in his wheelchair. He felt stiff. Had he been sitting there all night? Cassandra lay in the bed next to his chair, sleeping blissfully with her hand in his.

He jerked his hand away as if he were touching a viper. It all came back to him now. He entered her dreams in order to protect her from the lingering psychic effects of the wolf attack Once there he had become enmeshed in the dream and then he...

He blushed to think what he had done.

Cassandra stirred and stretched and gave a pleasant little moan, much as Mrs. Hudson his cat did when she awoke from a nap. She blinked at Strephon, then sat up. "Omigod. What time is it?"

Lacking a clock, Strephon merely stated the obvious. "It's morning."

"Hell! I've got to get to work!" She scrambled out of bed.

"On a Sunday?"

"I need to phone in my story!"

Strephon backed his wheelchair to give her room. "There's a telephone extension in my bedroom," he said. "It's the room just across the hall. Why don't you call in and I'll fix breakfast for you." He turned to leave the room.

"Strephon?" He paused and looked back at her. "Were you sitting up with me all night?"

"I... wanted to keep an eye on you. In case you needed anything," he hastily added. "You seemed to be having some disturbing dreams."

"Yes... yes, I did," Cassandra said, a strange thoughtful look coming into her eyes. "Strange dreams and very vivid." Strephon turned quickly away before she could see him blush.

He took the lift down to the ground floor and busied himself about the kitchen making breakfast. He was just in the process of dividing the kippers and the omelet when Cassandra came down the stairs.

"I really need to be getting to the office. Um, that smells good."

"There's butter and jam if you like," Strephon said motioning to the toast on the table. Cassandra wrestled between her conscience and her appetite for a moment, then decided to join him.

"This is quite good," Cassandra said between mouthfuls.

"Thank you. When one cooks for oneself long enough, one develops a few specialties."
She gazed at him thoughtfully for a while. Uncomfortable with the silence, Strephon added, "I trust you slept well."

"Oh yes. Quite well. I just had some peculiar dreams."

Strephon silently cursed himself. He had hoped she might forget that. To her, the experience was only a dream, but to the Fae, dreams and reality were one. He had been there and helped shape that reality; and within her dream he had taken advantage of her. That was unforgivable.

He realized with some discomfort that she was still staring at him. "Do you mind a personal question?" she asked. "About your... your you-know. Are you, uh, paralyzed from the waist down or is it just your legs?"

"It is chiefly the legs. There is a certain amount of muscular degeneration, but I am not exactly paralyzed. The rest of me is just fine." Now she blushed, and Strephon cursed himself again as he realized what she must be thinking of.

Strephon was spared another uncomfortable silence by a knock at the door. He excused himself and went to answer it.

"Good morning. Pardon me for intruding, but are you Mister Strephon MacKenzie?"


The man pulled a flat wallet from his coat pocket displaying a badge. "I'm Detective Isaac Masey with the police department. I'd like to ask you a few questions. May I come in?"

A knot of panic tightened in Strephon's gut. The man bore the unmistakable aura of wolf!

He let the detective in. This would be about last night's incident. Was he a member of the wolf pack that attacked them? Don't panic, he told himself; They can smell fear. He briefly considered casting a faerie glamour to make him go away, but at that moment Cassandra came into the parlor, munching on a piece of toast and jam. No, he didn't want to be wielding fae magic in front of her. Damnation, why did things have to be so complicated?

"Last night witnesses saw a pack of wild dogs or wolves attacking a woman and a man in a wheelchair near the Tortuga Bay restaurant a few blocks away from here."

"Ah. Yes, the man in the wheelchair was I. Miss True and I were just leaving the restaurant when we were attacked."

"And you did not report this to the police?"

"Well, since we escaped our adventure with little hurt, I saw little point in it. A cabdriver came and frightened the dogs away. I thought it best to get Miss True someplace safe after her fright."

"I see." The detective consulted his notes. "I have here that you fought the... dogs off yourself." He looked up with a skeptical eye. "Did you?"

"He did!" Cassandra piped in. Curse that woman! "He beat them off with his canes!"

"Your cane? Not a knife or some sort of bladed weapon?"

"Why do you ask?"

The detective showed him a photograph. Strephon recognized it as the werewolf he had killed. "This woman was found dead not too far from the scene. Have you ever seen her before?"


"You're certain about that?"

"We were attacked by dogs, detective, not nudists. I think I should have remembered seeing someone like this." Fortunately, deception and deceit were part of his fae heritage and he was beginning to warm to the role.

The questioning continued for some minutes until the detective finally seemed satisfied. As he left, Strephon called out to him rather peevishly, "I really think the police ought to do something about these packs of wild dogs roaming the city! They're a public menace!"

The detective's patience snapped. "Well then you should have called the police in the first place!" Strephon watched with satisfaction as the detective left. When in doubt, try rudeness.

When he was gone, Cassandra turned to him and said, "Why didn't you tell me all that happened? I missed half the good stuff! Now I'm going to have to rewrite my story!" She checked her watch. "Omigosh. I've got to get going!" She munched down her piece of now cold toast and dashed for the door.

Before she left she turned once more to Strephon. "Oh, and about tomorrow. What time should I be ready for dinner?"

Strephon's jaw sagged. He had completely forgotten.

NEXT:  What a Swell Party This Is

1 comment:

kurt wilcken said...

Here we have a follow-up to Detective Masey's appearance from the earlier chapter. He doesn't really have that much to do with Strephon's story; he has worries of his own. But I did like having him pop in from time to time.

And no, that's all we're going to see about what happened in Cassandra's dream, Strephon's a gentleman, after all, and gentlemen prefer not to speak of such things. It would be a liberty.