Birthday Snippet

Story I’m working on based in the world of The Ace of Knives

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Out past the curb there’s a man covered in filth, ranting in the road. Making a beeline for where Gabriel and I are sitting.

The muscle are on it in seconds, closing in on him.

There’s something about him. An aura, perhaps, of magic. Perhaps even dark magic.

Gabriel stops mid sentence and falls silent.

His eyes narrow.

The security detail closest to us says, “That’s the guy we almost ran over, sir.”

The derelict man’s laughing. “I had started thinking that all my efforts were in vain, my resources were to no end, and I was at a loss… and you find me.”
“What is he talking about?”
“I don’t know.”

The muscle stop short of him, at a loss. On the one hand, this seems suspicious. On the other hand, it’s becoming apparent that this derelict person knows Gabriel.

The man eyes them. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay where you are.” His words vibrate. They fall to their knees. I feel it behind my eyes. Like black trying to show itself–trying to appear–under the brightness of the sun. These guys wouldn’t be ones to shy away from a conflict, be it physical or supernatural. Something’s up, and it’s come for Gabriel. And these guys aren’t equipped to handle it. Even though they can’t move, they’re still poised, on guard.

The man seems to have finished staring them down. He turns his attention back to Garbiel. The air goes back to feeling normal.

“Everyone knows about Mary–that one was easy to cover up, cast aside–but no one knows about Barbara. Or the others. Do they?”

Gabriel’s eyes narrow. The flint flares in his pale eyes, bright like off the edge of a knife. Then, just like that, in the blink of an eye, the charm is on. I realize I’m witnessing him using his gift. His smile is brilliant, his tone warm, welcoming. The effect almost feels like a beam of light, but it’s not directed at me. “Who are you?”

“The name’s Ashe. I’m here for Barbara. You’ll remember the name.”

Gabriel falters for a bit. Maybe whatever he’s doing’s not working on the man. He tries again, a kinder, gentler tone. “What do you want?”

“You’ve got a way with words, with people, don’t you, Gabriel? Well… I’ve got a way with words too.”

The smile melts from Gabriel’s face. His features go singularly grave. The flint in those blue eyes flares up again, and I’m reminded of how he spoke to the women earlier, how he eyed the one.

“There it is. The monster behind the mask. Very few know of your lingering rage issues, do they? They think their almighty Gabriel’s no shadows and all light. Except for those unfortunate few who manage to get real close. Too close. Like those women. Like Barbara.”

Gabriel doesn’t reply. His quiet has taken on a patient, lethal quality. I’m beyond wary.

“She paid the ultimate price for not filling that void that’s eating away inside of you, that need only violence could fill.”

The man pauses.

“And for telling you that to your face.”

Something else is happening here; it’s in the air. Gabriel’s eyes flick briefly to the security men.

“Well, here’s an end to it, Gabriel. I’m gonna tell you what’s gonna happen to you from now on.

That easy likability of yours that you use, your gift to charm others so… it’s gonna turn on in against itself. Those very ambitions that got you to where you are today are from now on only going to curdle everything good around and inside you. You’re gonna shrivel up and disappear, Gabriel; everyone’s going to desert you. No one’s going to want to deal with you, no one’s going to want to risk being near you. I don’t know where you’re finally going to end up, but it’s gonna be nowhere good: maybe on the side of the road somewhere, begging for change. Ranting on about how great you once were. How your words once could move mountains. Maybe in a ditch. But when you end up where you end up, then you’re gonna be done. That’s the curse I place on you, Gabriel. If there’s any good that can come out of my gift, and if there’s one thing that I can do for Barbara, let this be it.”

And with that the man turned and walked away.

 

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