Monday, 2 June 2008

Fictional Freakouts: The Phantom Brigade Issue #1

This is the beginning of another one of my serialized blog stories. I have no plan, no outline, or idea where it's going to go. But I do have a sense of how it starts. I'll be making it all up as I go along and see how long I can make it run. So here goes, enjoy...
"You been sleeping?" asked Linda Woller.

Emma Grail nodded.

"Still having those weird dreams?" asked Linda as she turned her BMW onto Emma's street.

Emma sighed. She had the weird dreams because she was in a weird accident, if it could be called that. Perhaps 'incident' was closer, but it was still too vague.

The whole thing started out as pretty routine, she was on a flight back to Los Angeles after visiting her folks back east. The take-off was routine, and she had a friendly chat with the man in the next seat. His name was Thorn and he was in entertainment too, in a way, as an editor with a publishing company, flying to some meetings with a new author. He was too nervous to talk business, it was his first trip to LA, so they talked about the city, the sights, the smells, and how alien it was compared to everywhere else.

Then she looked out the window and saw the cloud. It wasn't really a cloud. Real clouds weren't green, didn't glow, and didn't charge at their plane like a mad bull.

She couldn't remember what happened next. Just a strange spinning sensation, then she woke up, still in her seat. However, when she looked out the plane window this time she didn't see the cloud, nor did she the sky.

She saw wheat.

Trans-Global Airlines Flight 435 to Los Angeles disappeared over Massachusetts, and was found three hours later in a wheat field in southern Saskatchewan. The plane was still in one piece, and almost all the passengers and crew were in their seats.

Almost all of them.

The man in next seat was gone.

And the frustrating part was that the dreams that she had every night for the past year seemed to have nothing to do with how a plane load of people ended up in a wheat field being stared at by a confused farmer. They did feature the man from the aisle seat, but he was different, he was changed.

"I'm still having the dreams," said Emma. "Are you going to be my psychiatrist now?"

"I'm an agent," answered Linda, "a ten-percenter. I can't afford to have my hot new client being caught by the paparazzi shaving her head with a lawnmower."

"Nice to know you care."

"This is LA," answered Linda. "Home of movie stars, agents, and that Mauler." Linda shuddered.

The mere mention of the local media's latest bogeyman made Emma even more aware of the darkness outside Linda's car. Southern California, so sunny during the day, transformed at sunset into the sickly glow of streetlights, and car headlamps, and deep pools of inky blackness. Two people had been mauled to death by.... well, folks didn't know. Some experts said it was an animal, others said it was a maniac.

Emma really didn't care, she just wanted to get home, and get some sleep, even if it was full of dreams that didn't make sense.

"Here's your condo," said Linda. "And remember, Franklin wants to see you Friday for another test."

"I haven't had this many tests since high school," said Emma as she opened the passenger door.

"I'm going to watch you to your door," said Linda.

"Protecting your invest--?" asked Emma, freezing halfway out the door.

Something was different in the air. It wasn't the usual neighborhood smell of car exhaust and chlorine from the pool. It was something sickly, sour.... strange....

Emma heard an inhuman snarl coming from behind the eucalyptus tree. It wasn't a dog, it wasn't anything she heard before.

Emma dove back into the car, slamming the door. Something, a big black shape, leaped from the shrubbery, and slammed hard into the side of Linda's BMW with enough force to crack the window.

Linda and Emma screamed.

The shape growled and moved around the car.

"My phone!" gasped Linda. "911!!" Linda began fumbling in her purse, trying to find something that was usually another appendage of her body.

A face pressed up against the glass of the driver's side window.

Linda screamed and almost climbed on top of Emma in terror.

It wasn't a maniac.

It wasn't an animal.

It wasn't human either.

Beady red eyes stared the glass. Through the mist the beast's breathing pasted onto the window Emma could make out a flat face, gray-skinned, with a wide slash of a mouth. Its lips parted to show two rows of shark like teeth.


The thing's head smashed against the window, shattering it. Emma suddenly remembered what her father told her when she got her first Hollywood job. She pulled out her key ring, sliding the metal keys between the fingers of her fist.

The thing leaned its head in. Linda wanted to scream, but couldn't, she just pressed against the back of her seat.

Emma could see its nostrils flare, and then it leaned in, ignoring Linda, and came in closer to Emma. Its neck stretching to an unnatural length.

Emma pulled her right arm back. She could smell its breath, reeking of blood and meat, and see its eyes narrowing.

Then Emma struck.

She felt the sharp end of her keys strike hard, leathery skin, and slide, then the key to her apartment back home, struck it in the eye. A terrible howl came from the beast as it recoiled from the car, leaving a trail of inky black slime in its wake.

Emma saw it stumble backwards into a streetlight. A clawed hand held up to its face. Black fluid seeping between its fingers. If it wasn't for the long neck, it would have looked almost human in basic shape, almost. Its feet were bare, revealing long, finger-like toes, topped off with sharp claws. It's fingers, three of them, were long, thick, and ended in claws as well.

But that wasn't the part that struck Emma as weird.

What struck her as weird was it's outfit.

It looked like it was wearing an electric pink jumpsuit.

The creature lunged back at the car, howling, black blood covering half its face.

Linda found the strength to scream.

Then there was a flash of light, and the creature stumbled backwards. Black blood now flowed from a wound in its chest.

Another flash.

Another fountain of blood appeared on its chest. The beast's legs turned to rubber and it fell in a heap on the pavement.

"Clean up," said voice from outside the BMW. "Aisle one. Clean up on aisle one."

Emma looked out. Men, dressed in black, their faces obscured surrounded the creature. They were aiming what look like weapons at the creature lying on the ground. At least Emma thought they were weapons, but they looked more like props from a science fiction film.

The faces were blanks to Emma. She didn't know what kind of masks they wore, but it was like their faces were out of focus.

Except for one.

"Thorn?" asked Emma, seeing a clear face in the crowd.

"Sorry for the mess," said Thorn, his face thinner, more serious than when they met, like the face in her recurring dream, "but it'll be like none of this ever happened."

Thorn touched a button on the back of what looked like a pistol, and aimed it in the car. Linda put up her hands, the came a flash of blue light, then a dark dreamless sleep.


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