When Good is Dumb : Raindrops on Roses

Wordcount: 1,858 words
Rating/Warnings: PG-13
Summary: Kat is having a Very Bad Day.

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Kat didn’t quite run out of the building, but she sped through the various checkpoints much faster than the guards seemed comfortable with. Those at the final door watched with amused alarm as she rearmed herself from the storage container. They gave her a wide berth as she hit the street and she gave an amused snort as she walked down the sidewalk. It didn’t hurt her reputation any to be seen with that much firepower, which is one of the reasons she had loaded for bear when she headed out the door that morning.

Always leave them anticipating overkill, she thought to herself as she tugged one of the holsters into a slightly more comfortable position. The only problem with wearing as much as she could carry was that it was darned uncomfortable to move in. But thankfully there had been space in the nearest parking garage –a rare thing even in the End Times– so she didn’t have far to go.

The streets were still full of people, since the sun was up and the shadows were easily avoidable. Most offices and stores were almost glowing; every available light turned on and pointed into every slightly shadowed corner. There’d be no attacks here, at least not until the rolling brownouts finished working their way across the country. She was slightly amazed that the power hadn’t been rationed before this, but it would happen soon enough.

Life would go on after the Veil shifted –it would go on even as it was shifting– but she had no illusions that life would be anything like what she had grown up with. There was a serious sea change on the horizon and she was just as excited as she was terrified. Not everyone looks forward to an apocalypse, but she was uniquely trained to handle apocalypses.

And at least it wasn’t zombies.

Zombies weren’t content to stay in the shadows and were mindless in their pursuit of people (or brains). The demons, or at least the things they were calling demons, were deathly afraid of light and unwilling to risk themselves if they prey looked daunting enough. They had no reasons to; even confined to the shadows there was still plenty for them to feed on.

She was going to miss hamburgers though. Kat sighed wistfully as she passed a closed McDonalds. Cows were easy targets for the demons, most ranchers didn’t have the room or the electricity to keep all of them in the light and the price of beef had skyrocketed in the last month. Chickens were lucky, if you could call it lucky, since they spent their lives indoors. So at least the Chick-fila would survive Armageddon, even if her favorite burger joints bit the dust.

She nodded a polite hello to a band of demon hunters as they passed her. Armed with high powered flashlights, laser pointers, and what appeared to be a make-shift lances they were heading into one of the shadowed alleyways. It was safest to thin the pack now, when safety was only a few steps away, and while the batteries lasted they might as well clean up what areas they could.

She wondered idly if they’d have to redo the Saint George and the dragon painting for the new millennia.

The parking garage was relatively well lit, with only a few minor corners that had to be avoided. Still, she reflexively checked her side holster, running fingers over the quick release out of habit more than necessity. It had been years since she’d assembled the holster incorrectly, but she’d never forget the one time she tugged on the gun and it hadn’t come free.

She nodded at the gate guard who seemed more interested in his cell phone than his clientele, and headed inside. The stairs and elevators were out of the question now. Anything went wrong and you were trapped in the darkness with no easy escape. At least walking up the levels she’d have plenty of room to run if the need arose.

The demons seemed to hold sunlight and electric light in the same contempt, which made things a lot easier to deal with. She didn’t care why they didn’t; that sort of thinking was left to the scientific branches of the Society. Kat’s job was to find what worked and then use that advantage ruthlessly. False vampires were just as easy to deal with as live ones– if only the demons reacted to holy water and crosses the same way!

She still felt the urge to whistle as she headed through areas that weren’t as brightly lit as she would have liked. Even though she couldn’t see anything in the shadowed corners, she could imagine them lurking there, watching.

When the dog bites, when the bee stings, she hummed quietly, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad. It shouldn’t have worked, because life was never that simple, but it did– in the same chipper annoying way that it always had. Broadway musical numbers had no place in the real world, no matter how catchy the tune.

She reached the battered blue compact car just as the overhead lights started to flicker. With a curse she yanked the door open (no one was going to steal the car while it was missing the steering wheel) and scrabbled inside. The lights resumed their normal operation with a mocking hum and she said a few creative words about the inventor of florescent lighting.

After the adrenaline rush had ebbed, she dug under the seat until she found the half moon of metal and duct tape that acted as her replacement steering wheel. Someday she’d have to break down and actually shell out the money to repair the car, but for now, as long as she could steer reasonably well, it functioned as a great anti-theft device.

She had gotten the wheel roughly half-way on when the overhead lights abruptly went out, plunging her level of the parking garage into darkness.

Shitshitshit— she jammed the key in the ignition and turned the car on (at least she’d never had problems starting the piece of junk) and snapped the lights on. The beams cut across the level and she muttered a prayer of thanks to whatever minor deities were responsible for her remembering to park facing out. The lights caught a glancing blow across one of the forms that had sprinted out of the darker shadows, sending it yelping out of the way with a sound like a choir of badly tuned violins.

There was an answering cacophony from the other demons that were working thier way around the sudden pool of light. It sounded like there might only be three or four more, but if she was being honest, even one was probably going to be a bit much.

Kat flipped on the interior light and grabbed the flashlight out of the passenger seat. She turned it on and jury rigged it to point out the back window; which, for the moment, was facing the safety of a concrete wall. Once she started moving, she was pretty sure pursuit was inevitable.

She’s been working on a way to better protect the car, which was why the flashlight was inside, but she hadn’t come close to finishing anything so there was no way to secure the light. She’d just have to hope it stayed wedged in place between the seats until she was back in the light again. She could see that the levels above and below her were still lit, which meant it was only a short distance to safety. Assuming the sudden darkness was accidental.

There was musical snarl on both sides of her now and she waited until they were slightly closer to the car before gunning it out of the parking space. She was almost on target, but ended up going a little too soon and knocking over one of the demons as she turned. There was a screech of barbed claws against metal as it instinctively dug into the attacker, then panicked as the barbs caught in the door. She tried very hard to ignore the fact that the passenger door was starting to deform as the demon struggled to free itself. Even after a month the demons weren’t used to fighting cars, the tactics that worked so well against flesh and blood targets backfired when they were faced with things that weren’t so easy to rend.

She drove as fast as she dared with the demon yowling and thrashing against the sheet metal, which was slower than she liked, into the next set of lights.

Which turned off just as she reached them.

And that meant some one was trying to kill her, which only pissed her off. She gave up trying to play it safe and sent the car careening around the next corner and down towards the next level. The passenger door lasted roughly half the distance and then ripped off the hinges with a sound oddly harmonious with the terrified scream of the demon as it went bouncing along the floor.

The lights turned off before her as she went, but the demons hung back in their chase. She wasn’t sure if it was the faint beam of the flashlight bouncing out the back window or the fact that one of their number had ended up fighting a door that caused their caution. Either way she made it out of the garage and skidded to a stop in the street.

The parking attendant was already out of the building and he backed up as the yowling pursuit came to a very loud and very frustrated halt where the sunlight met the pavement. You could see flashes of them, if you were looking, just shadows within the shadows. Unlike normal animals there were no reflections from eyes or teeth– they seemed almost made of darkness, and they might be since no one had every actually seen one.

Kat sighed and buried her head in her hands, which were still locked in a death grip on her steering wheel. This just wasn’t going to be her day.

“Are you okay?” Kat looked up to find a very pale parking attendant looking in through the hole where her passenger door had been.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Car’s toast though.” Which was stating the obvious and that meant she needed to stop talking since her conversational skills were only going to go downhill from there. “But thanks.”

“Um, okay then, I’m gonna, um,” he looked back at his now uninhabitable workplace. “Well, go home I guess.” He looked about as coherent as she felt.

“Good luck with that.”


She put the car back in gear and he stepped back as she started down the road. If she was lucky she wouldn’t get a ticket for driving without a door, the Matron would overlook the fact that Alec had said yes, and she was going to wake-up from this really truly fucked up dream… Any minute now.

Yeah, this definitely wasn’t going to be her day.

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Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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