Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dark Redemption chapter 66: Second Thoughts

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 semi-immortal half-fae, has finally admitted his supernatural heritage to his uncomfortably close acquaintance Cassandra True, (mainly because she’s guessed much of it already).  But Cassandra has more pressing concerns:  her roommate, Cecilie, has fallen under the spell of a vampire.  She has taken Cecilie to Mrs. Simms, a sorceress in the local Jamaican community and a friend of Strephon’s.

“It’s about time you showed up,: Grandma Simms sniffed as Cassandra wheeled Strephon into the Friendlee-Mart.

“I came as soon as I heard, and I regret not having come sooner,” Strephon said contritely.

Mrs. Simms gave a grunt to acknowledge that Strephon had apologized, but that she was by no means going to let him off the hook so easily.  “Come along,” she said.  “Cassandra’s friend is in the back.”  She turned and called out to a girl in a blue apron stocking a display of tinned meats.  “Theodora?  Mind the cash register ‘till I get back.”

“Yes, Grams,” the girl replied.

The employee break room of the Friendlee-Mart was a cozy affair, barely large enough to accommodate tow vending machines, a microwave and a smallish table.  Cecilie sat at the table, where she was occupying herself by drawing facial hair on pictures of the Prime Minister in the previous day’s copy of the Daily Oracle.  She got to her feet when Mrs. Simms led Cassandra and Strephon in.

“I’ve changed my –“ she started to say; then stopped.  “You brought Strephon.”

Cassandra grimaced.  “His name is… wait, you got it right.  You never call Strephon by his right name.”

 “Of course I did.  What else could he be?  He looks like a Strephon.”

Strephon had only met Cecilie very briefly and she’d seemed to him rather flighty.  Still, he told himself not to make snap judgements.  Cecilie gave him an odd, speculative look that make Strephon feel uncomfortable, so he changed the subject..  “You were about to say…?”

“Oh, yeah.”  Cecilie turned to Cassandra.  “I’ve been thinking, Sandy, about last night.  I kinda over-reacted.  Maybe if I just talked to Philippe, he could explain things…”

“I’m sure he could,” Cassandra replied dryly.

Mrs. Simms grumbled.  “She been doin’ this all morning.  Back and forth.  ‘Oh, I was so mean to Philippe!  How can he forgive me?’   ‘He been usin’ me!  I got to stay away!’  Make up your mind, child!”

“I think I understand,” Strephon said quietly.  “Last night you made a decision and now you’re not sure if it was the right one.  You are afraid of doing something irrevocable.  Am I correct?”

Cecilie brightened.  “That’s exactly it!”

“But that is precisely why you ought to wait a bit and think things over, Miss Cecilie.  If you don’t mind the familiarity.  I don’t believe Cassandra ever told me your given name.”

“It’s Draper.  But you can call me Cecilie.  I don’t mind.”  She had that same vexing, speculative look in her eye that Strephon had been trying to discourage in Cassandra.  He noted that Cassandra had observed the look too and did not care for it either.  Strephon firmly steered the conversation back to the subject.

“The point is, Miss Draper, that if you do eventually decide to return to your lover, he will still be there.  I daresay he will wait for you.  If he doesn’t, he’s clearly unworthy of your affections and you’re better off without him, vampire or no.  But once you return to him, if that’s what you do, there will be no turning back.  He made a mistake with you last night; he will not make it again.  He will not let you go. You will be his thing, until he finally decides to discard you.  So I implore you, Miss Draper, to consider long and hard before you… Miss Draper…?

She was staring at him intently but did not seem to be listening.  “You never told me he was sexy, Sandy.”

Cassandra emitted an incoherent squeak.  Then she said, “Oh, I get it.  This is payback for my flirting with Philippe last night!”

“What?  No!  What are you saying?”

“Can we keep to business?” Mrs. Simms snapped.  “I got me a store to run!”

Strephon frowned.  There was definitely something peculiar about Miss Draper;  something he didn’t remember noticing on their first meeting. Something peculiar, and yet maddeningly familiar; something about her that he felt he ought to recognize.

“I never thought I’d say this,” he muttered to himself, “But I wish Devon were here.”

A sarcastic voice behind him spoke:  “You rang?”

Strephon looked over his shoulder and saw a shadow by the vending machine take form and solidify into a black-coat and sunglasses around and Devon’s cynical smile.

“Ah,” Strephon said; “Speak of the Devil.”