Authors: Kate Danley
Tags: #Fantasy, #female protagonist, #Supernatural, #urban fantasy
By Kate Danley
Table of Contents
To My Scooby Crew
Those Bloggers of the Golden Age
I’m a tracker. Actually, my business card reads “Maggie MacKay - Magical Tracker”. I find the bad guys and bring them in. And right now, I was getting the shit kicked out of me. It’s a crummy job and, unfortunately, it’s mine.
I appear to be a normal, thirty-something, Irish brunette. You know. With a penchant for bike leathers and, at this particular moment, wrestling vampires.
God, they stink. The whole undead process does not slow the rotting corpse action.
I had a trace on this one since he crawled out of the sewer to sit in the church eaves, hell- bent on taking out a couple of nice old nuns. I may not have all my priorities straight, but those ladies gave up getting laid to feed the hungry and care for the poor. You don’t make gals like that lunch.
I had chased this sucker down a blind alley, silver stake in my hand. Unnecessarily fancy weaponry? Yes. You are correct. To kill a vampire, you just need a stake, anything pointy will do, but I never know what I’ll be tracking next, so I try to go for multipurpose tools. Plus, my sister got this one engraved for me at
last Christmas, which, I think, gives it some added class.
“Come on, would you just die already?” I grunted as he grappled with me, trying to get his fangs in my neck. I’d learned a long time ago to wear neckguards. Vampires will go for anywhere you’ve got a pulse, but it’s when they get you in the neck that you have to worry.
“You are the one who will die!” he whispered, flipping me on my stomach and sitting on my back.
Crap. Not good.
“I have been waiting a long time to destroy you, Ms. MacKay.”
Now, I might not be the swiftest boat in the fleet, but A) This guy shouldn’t know my name and B) what’s with the whole “long time to destroy me” action? I figured if I was potentially going to snuff it, I should at least ask. Between elbow punches to his ribcage as I tried to wriggle away, I managed to grunt out, “How do you know me?”
“I am afraid you are the one with the bounty upon her head.”
“What does that even mean?”
I felt him fumbling with the locks on my guard. I was not about to have any of this. I grabbed him around the neck to roll him when I heard a THWACK and felt him stiffen, then fall off me. He landed, his wide eyes frozen upon my face.
I sat up.
“It appeared that you were in need of assistance.”
My knight in shining armor was tall, easily 6’4, maybe 6’5, and impossibly gorgeous. The kind of guy you feel like you needed to apologize to afterwards for kissing because your face was unworthy of those lips. Lord almighty. He was slender and chiseled, golden locks tumbling around his merry blue eyes. Oh, and pointy ears, which explained the whole unearthly beauty. He was an elf. And evidently on my side. For the moment.
“Naw, I had him,” I said, standing up and brushing off my pants. I so had NOT had him and a very terrified part of me didn’t want to admit how close I had been to being a blood bank bento box just a couple minutes ago. “But, you know, thanks for saving me some time.”
I picked up the vampire’s arms and started dragging him down the alley.
“Permit me to assist you, fair lady.”
I rolled my eyes. That’s the deal with elves. Gorgeous. Mind-blowingly good lays. But you had to put up with the ridiculously archaic crap that came shooting out of their mouth. Still, he was stronger than me and I have no pride when it comes to getting out of moving dead weight.
“Eh, sure,” I dropped the vampire with a thunk.
The elf picked the evil undead monster up like he was a two-pound kitten. Mrrrow.
“So, um... my car is over there,” I said, pointed to a beat up Honda Civic sitting by the curb. “Just throw him in the trunk and I can give you a lift wherever you need to go.”
“Actually, fair lady, my business is with you.”
“Riiiight. Any hints?” I asked.
“I have a proposition for future employment.”
Now, that’s more like it. Business had been slow recently. I operated in Los Angeles, the city of broken dreams and assorted crap. There are millions of folks over here, each of them with huge imaginations and no outlet. It tends to attract a certain crowd from the Other Side. And when I say Other Side, I’m not talking about Brentwood.
There is this whole alternate world that exists in the same place, just a separate plane of existence, as the world that most humans know. There are some gifted folks, like my mom, that can see in between these planes and figure out how one world is going to screw with the other (because that’s what we do). For every push on Earth, there is a pull on the Other Side. Normally, the two worlds stay happily on their respective planes, but sometimes the veil is kinda thin. It happens when things get out of whack, and let me tell you something, there is nothing balanced about Los Angeles. It is life lived with the volume cranked to 11 and with that much energy being put out, it’s like a light to a moth - except these moths are seven-feet tall and will eat your face.
That’s not to say the Other Side is filled with only monsters. Hell, I live there. There are some pretty good folks and sometimes they come over to Earth for a nice little staycation. Central Casting has a field day when the circus comes to town. All the movie monster extras you need, no prosthetics required!
But, unfortunately, I don’t get to deal with those dudes. I get to deal with the scum of the magical world. Vampires, werewolves, trolls, you name it. If it is gross and wants to kill somebody, that’s where I come in. It’s my job to haul them back to the Other Side - undead or alive.
I popped the trunk and stood appreciatively as the elf dumped the V-pire amidst my spare tire and crossbow.
“A job, huh?”
The elf nodded.
“What did you say your name was?”
“Killian, at your command.”
He bowed deeply, giving me a good look at his muscular back. I could think of a couple of commands but none of them were appropriate within 500 feet of a church.
“Right. Hop in. We’ll talk,” I said as I slid behind the wheel, the car dinging at me insistently to buckle up my seatbelt. “So, what’s this job?”
And that’s when my car felt like it had been hit by a freight train.
“Hang on!” Killian cried.
“WHAT THE FUCK!” I screamed as I grabbed the wheel.
Killian reached over and covered me with his body as the windows exploded.
The car rolled, air bags deployed, and we tumbled ass-over-teakettle, spare change and Kleenex boxes ricocheting around us.
Note to self, clean out car prior to next magical attack.
And then, just like that, it was done. I looked over at Killian as we hung upside down from our seatbelts.
“This is what I am here to see you about,” he said.
I unbuckled my seatbelt and fell to the roof that was now the floor of my car. I climbed through where my driver’s side window should have been and stumbled to my feet.
“I’m out. The answer is no. Leave. Now.”
Sirens wailed in the distance. Killian unbuckled himself and did the fall-and-crawl, “You are the only one I can turn to.”
“Listen, my car has been destroyed by an invisible something and the cops are right around the corner. There is no way I can talk my way out of that vampire stuck in my trunk.”
Human police get a little cranky when they toss your car and find a corpse.
Killian looked over at my smashed vehicle, silver blood oozing out the back, sirens coming closer. I saw him breathe in and make a decision before turning to me, “How badly do you want me to fix it?”
Oh no. No. No. No.
“You fucking elf. Don’t you dare even pretend like you are about to bargain for a favor.”
“I already saved your life,” he said.
“You already did shit. You almost got me killed! I’m not binding myself to you!”
He opened his arms, palms up, “Just say the words and I can make this all go away.”
Shit shit shit shit shit. Those elves don’t spend all those extra years in the Other Side learning how to play nice, I’ll tell you that much. I gripped my hair in my hands, only too aware of the warm sticky blood gushing from my scalp.
People couldn’t know about me. They couldn’t know about what I did. If the folks on Earth got so much as a clue, I could have my license to travel between worlds pulled and be stuck spending the rest of my life in an asylum or pulling drinks at Starbucks. SHIT.
I could see the lights of the cop car now. Killian tilted his head, “Trust me.”
“Trust you. TRUST YOU OFF A CLIFF. Fine, motherfucker, you’ve got it! I bind myself to you. In return for this favor, I owe you one favor. Fix this!”
Killian snapped his fingers and immediately a maelstrom of air was whipping around me. I saw the car right itself, the dents fill out, the windows re-grow. The pain of the cuts on my arms and my head healed without even the slightest hint of a scar. As the wind died, it was like nothing had ever happened.
The cop car slowed and the window rolled down. The hunkiest officer a single girl ever laid eyes on leaned out. I can’t believe I gave up a portion of my soul to an elf when I could have been frisked and handcuffed by this guy. This was not my day.
“We heard that a woman was being attacked...”
Killian came over and draped his arms across my shoulders, “My lady and I have not borne witness to any disagreements.”
The officer gave Killian a long look before talking to his partner, “Keep driving. Maybe they’re up ahead.”
Killian gave him a neighborly wave as they drove away.
I looked up at him, “If I could get away with killing you, you would be dead right now.”
Killian smiled, “You should get in line.”
“We should discuss your debt,” said Killian as he stared out at the lights on La Brea Blvd.
We were back in the car, headed for the border. Massive paranormal attack or not, I had the body of the dead undead in my trunk and I really wanted the storage space back.
“You’re right and you have no idea the joy that bubbleth over when I think upon our upcoming fireside chat,” I said, opening up the console next to my seat. “But I gotta get this guy dropped off in order to pick up my finder’s fee. Color me crazy, I’m not so good at multitasking when it comes to fighting for my life and covering my rent.”
“I could get you there faster,” Killian said with a wicked little glint in his eye.
“You greedy bastard, I owe you one mark already, I’m not going down that road for more. Jesus, you elves are all the frickin’ same.”
“Human favors are things of beauty.”
“You are a thing of beauty...”
“Can it, elf, or I will crush your summer fruit into a nice dinner wine.”
I fucking hate elves.
“Listen,” I said, flipping a couple switches on the dashboard. “The border is coming up quick and I won’t be distracted by you or anyone else. Got it?”
Killian settled back into his seat and made the universal sign for “after you”. I gave him the universal sign for “up yours, buddy”.
The car hit 45 mph on the winding back roads of Mulholland. Ex-mobster mansions are tucked into the sandy hills, their winding driveways barely visible in between the scrub brush and cacti. LA, evidently, ran out of money for guardrails and upkeep, though. The road is filled with potholes and the shoulder drops off sharply to canyons below. We sped past a scenic lookout where, on a clear day, you can see the Hollywood sign on one side and the ocean on the other. On a bad day, all you can see is smog.