Authors: Em Savage
Beyond These Walls
By Em Savage
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Beyond These Walls. Copyright © 2012 by Em Savage/j.a.kazimer. All Rights Reserved. For more information, contact OBSCURE Publishing, Denver, Colorado.
Table of Contents:
Beyond a seventy foot wall that separates humans from the mutant world, Indeara Adair, a debt collector for an illegal fairy-fighting ring, survives by kicking the occasional gnome ass. A job her half-human, half-mutant cells make her terrifyingly skilled at.
Life is good with a few exceptions, namely, an elite force of cops who have Indeara in their sights, not to mention the reappearance of Quinn Daniels, a man who betrayed her three years ago to dwell among the human race. A man she must now protect in order to save the mutant population.
Yet these are the least of Indeara’s concerns, for somewhere a plague destined to destroy the mutants is scheduled for release. A plague developed by Indeara’s own grandfather. With the help of a ragtag group of mutants led by the mysterious head of the rebel cause, Jake McClain, Indeara slips beyond the wall and into the human world to aid those she loves, and to learn the truth behind her own genetic code.
I started the day with ten fingers and an equal number of toes. But by six o’clock, I was down two knuckles and sported a hairline fracture of my left orbital bone.
All and all, not a bad day.
“Want another beer?” Ivan, the owner and sole employee of Ivan’s Lair, Liquor Emporium, and Tax Accountancy pointed to the empty bottle in front of me.
Opening my good eye, I tried to focus, something I regretted immediately. Ivan wasn’t wearing pants, or underwear, or skin for that matter. He stood in front of me in full muscle, veined, and skinless splendor. “Laundry day?” I gestured to his sagging pectorals.
“Wife shrunk my only skin.” Ivan frowned. “Said she
put it in the dryer.”
I nodded, trying hard not to picture Ivan’s emaciated epidermis. “I warned you not to flirt with those Harpies. Your wife was bound to find out.”
or Body Dwellers like Ivan and his wife, had a nasty jealous streak. I figured it came from too much body hopping.
Ivan passed me a beer and a bag of frozen peas. The sting of the peas against my fractured bone brought tears to my good eye, but I blinked them away. I might be a girl, but I’d be damned if I’d cry like one.
For a long moment Ivan stared at me. I shifted under his bug-eyed gaze, and scrubbed at a piece of gnome slobber on the sleeve of my leather jacket. Fucking gnomes.
“You’re a good lass, Indeara. Calvin would’ve been proud,” Ivan said referring to my father. Calvin had spent his life warring against the government’s attempt to imprison those of us they called mutants. And what did I do with my powers? I broke fey legs, and kneecapped Larry the Gnome over gambling debts. Yeah, Calvin would’ve been overjoyed.
But Ivan wasn’t finished. “One day, you’re going to make some man very happy. Just like your momma.” I snorted, but he ignored me. His eyes shifted, growing small and rat-like even with his lack of skin. “You know, my son Mikey’s still single.”
No surprise there. Mikey took after Ivan, in that he almost looked better with his skin off than on. Quinn, Ivan’s older black sheep of a son, was an entirely different matter however.
Nevertheless, it’d been three years since I’d last seen Quinn. Three years since he’d turned traitor and slipped beyond the wall to live in the human world. Three years since he’d left me bloody and dying in a rundown motel room.
“No offense, Ivan,” I said, pulling the peas from my eye. “But I’d rather lick a gnome.”
An hour later, my lunch break over, I rolled off my barstool and headed toward the backroom of Ivan’s Lair where I barely eked out a living. As a front for some of the most vicious illegal fairy fighting on this side of the wall, Ivan’s Lair offered all the excitement of Altered Vegas without the sparkling lights, or half-dressed cocktail waitresses. I shivered, picturing Ivan in fishnet stockings. I glanced back at his skinless splendor. On the other hand…I shook my head and sighed. Time to go back to work.
Behind the closed doors of Ivan’s another world existed. Not in the literal sense, of course, but a place were men and women, mutants and humans alike, gambled away their fortunes. Beyond these walls, one’s DNA didn’t matter as long as he had the money to play. Those who failed to pay found themselves facing a punishment worse than death: Me, a five-foot-six chick dressed in a skullcap, black cargo pants, and pink combat boots.
An odd choice of enforcer, to be sure, but my unique ability to heal and a quick half-Irish, half-mutant temper had served me well. Besides, I had little in the way of outside job skills. I couldn’t type, and I’d damn well didn’t dance, so that left out offices and strip clubs.
I started to unbolt the door to the backroom when the front door opened and a rush of polluted air filled the room. Two men followed the smog inside; each dressed in dark blue suits and black sunglasses. Cops. The HOA or Human Ops Agency kind.
Instead of slipping away unobserved, I returned to my barstool and watched as the men surveyed the lair. Ivan stood behind the bar, his thick muscled arms tucked over his chest, waiting for them to approach. Seconds ticked off the red striped Mutantweiser clock over the doorway.
The tension level increased.
The men didn’t speak or come any farther into the bar. They just stood at the door. An eerie silence mixed with the stench of dirty cop. Whatever they wanted, they wanted it bad enough to find their way here.
Which didn’t bode well for us.
My fingers snaked to the nine-millimeter strapped to my thigh, hidden underneath the folds of my cargo pants. If it was me they wanted, I wouldn’t go without a fight. Someone would bleed.
“Ivan Daniels?” asked the taller of the two men.
Ivan nodded. I swallowed a tiny fission of relief, and instantly felt guilty for my reaction. In many ways since losing my own father, Ivan had been there for me. He’d given me a job when no one else would. He’d made sure I had enough to eat and a place to sleep, all vitally important to an orphaned twelve-year-old mutant living on the street.
“I’m Agent Black and this is Agent Brown,” said the taller agent. “We’re looking for your son.”
The men stepped forward in unison like a badly choreographed boy-band. The muscles in Ivan’s forehead twitched, a sure sign something bad was about to happen. My hand gripped the cold alloy of the nine-millimeter willing Ivan to stay calm.
If he lost his control we were as good as dead. Emotion had no place in the killing business. It made you weak, gave your opponent an opening, and these guys were just waiting for the chance to destroy any mutant, let alone two of us.
In the 1960’s, in what became known as the Mutant Rights Movement, all out war had broken out between mutants and humans, which resulted in the wall that segregated us from our human counterparts. Since that time, we lived in an uneasy alliance.
“Whadda you want with Mikey?” Ivan’s shoulders tightened, coiling with straining muscle and veins. “He ain’t done nothing wrong.”
In sync the men shook their heads. “No, your other son. We’re here for Quinn Daniels.”
I relaxed. If the HOA wanted Quinn, they could have him. Hell, if I knew where the bastard was I’d hand him over myself.
“Then you’re out of luck,” Ivan said. “Quinn’s dead to me.” He gestured around the room and out the window. “To all of us. Now get the fuck out of my bar.”
The men took a step closer, their hands simultaneously pulling back their suit jackets to flash twin Glock 22’s, in twin leather holsters. Did they rehearse this stuff at agent school?
I held up a hand. “What do you want with Quinn anyway? He’s one of you now.”
“No mutant will ever be one of us,” Agent Black said.
“Thank God.” I lifted my eyes to meet his in an act of both stupidity and defiance. I’d never been good at cowering.
Black grabbed my arm, and yanked me up. My barstool toppled hitting the floor with a loud bang. Pain danced along my nerves, but I refused to struggle even as his fingers dug into my shoulder blade.
“What’s your name, boy?” asked the other agent.
Behind him, Ivan and I shared a grin. For the last year, Ivan had begged me to start dressing and acting more like a girl. When I’d ask why, he’d respond: A woman your age should be married and suckling three mutant babies by now, not kneecapping gnomes and twisting fairy wings.
After the hundredth lecture, I’d finally agreed to go out and purchase a hairbrush. When that didn’t shut him up, I splurged on a pair of pink combat boots.
I guess it still wasn’t enough.
Agent Black twisted my arm back, his features distorted with rage. In the nearly empty barroom, the snap of cartilage and bone in my shoulder echoed like mortar fire. Blackness swarmed across my vision edging me toward unconsciousness. I would not cry out know matter what happened. They wouldn’t get the satisfaction.
Agent Brown, shorter and wider than his co-worker, grabbed my chin in his hand. His fingers smelled of cigarette smoke and chocolate. “Tell me your name,” he said tightening his grip.
I spat in his pudgy face.
His fist glanced off the side of my jaw ripping my lip open. Blood spurted from the wound. I jerked back; blue light exploding inside my brain as my skullcap flew off, sending a shower of curly blonde ringlets down the back of my neck.
Yeah, I looked a lot like a dirty version of Shirley freaking Temple or so Quinn had used to point out.
Agent Black released me, and I lurched to the floor. Both agents stared at me, their mouths and eyes wide open like a chicken-fish dangling from a hook.
“You’re a girl,” Black said.
“Brilliant observation.” I curled my legs under me and sprung from the floor. Together, the agents took a step back. Their eyes darted between the exit and me. It appeared that more than my gender had rattled them.
Before their eyes, my split lip began to heal, and a smile crossed Agent Black’s lips. “I know you.” He nodded to his partner. “She’s the one they told us about.”
Shit. Once they knew your name your time was limited.
“She’s a Stannum.” His smug face grew even more confident. “One of the last.”
. I hated that term. By definition, it meant silver and lead alloy, a cyborg of sorts. While a genetic mutation of metals protected my cells and I healed faster than my human counterparts did, I wasn’t a robot. I felt pain. I bled. I cried.
But humans feared Stannums more than other mutations. Because we were harder to kill or more willing to die, I didn’t know, but fear us they did.
“Leave her alone,” Ivan yelled as Agent Black seized my arm again. “I’ll tell you what you wanna know. Just let the girl alone.”
Nodding, Black released my arm and shoved me against the bar. I stumbled, but stayed on my feet, palming my gun in one fluid motion. I’d had enough manhandling today; first from Larry, a bitter body-dwelling gnome, and now these two assholes with badges. Enough was enough. The next guy to put his hands on me was in for a surprise.
Chocolate-fingered Agent Brown stepped in front of Ivan, his fist hovering at chest level. “Where’s the headquarters of the Resistance?”
I snickered, drawing an evil glare from Agent Black. His eye twitched, which ruined the overall effect. “You’re a fool,” I said, shaking my head. “There is no Resistance. If there ever was one, it died years ago with its leader.”
Agent Brown laughed, flashing tobacco stained teeth. “On the contrary. The Resistance and its leader are very much alive.” He paused. “For now.”
“Are you saying my boy is the leader?” Ivan frowned. “That’s insane. Quinn’s a coward.” He snorted with harsh laughter. “Worse than a coward. He’s a traitor.”
“Be that as it may,” said Agent Black. “When we find him, coward or not, he will die, and the Resistance will be crushed for the last time.”
“Good luck with that,” I said as they pushed open the door. “Be sure to let us know how it all works out.”