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The thing was, she hadn't meant to burn the church to the ground. It wasn't like anyone had been using the old thing, and the happy side effect of her untested candle ward exploding was that it had taken what the locals dubbed 'Hand Teeth' with it. Mabel risked sticking around to kick about the ashes (another lucky side effect that a fire ward backfire burned fast and left only cool ashes and charred stone bones behind). She found a collection of baby teeth, clumped together in the form of a fist, and used the muzzle of her gun to scatter them.

Then she got the hell outta dodge, cutting through waist-high fields of dead brown grass rather than walking along the highway to get back to her car. The police were bound to show up sometime, and she didn't feel like spending another week in some rundown county jail, free meals be damned. She always parked her car a good distance away from whatever she was hunting, be it dead or not, to keep them from getting to it - that had happened a few times, and she learned her lesson very expensively from it.

It was waiting for her when she got there.

It sat cross-legged on the top of her car, like it had every business being there like any normal person. Mabel froze when she saw it, and that was her first mistake. She had never seen one of them before, and until now she didn't even think they existed. It spotted her as she stood there like an slack-jawed idiot, and stood. Before Mabel could think about it, she brought her rifle up and fired squarely at its chest.

It tumbled off her car, bounding face-first off the hood before landing in a sprawled heap in the dirt. It so astonished her that she had hit the damn thing - she didn't think they could be hit, right after not thinking they were real - that she went in for a closer look. Besides, it was between her and her car.

That was her second mistake.

The mask still covered its face; she expected it to peel right off like the cheap-ass thing it looked to be. And it wasn't pure white, not like the ones she used. He had scrawled on it, messing with the eye sockets somehow. She couldn't see properly because it lay face down. Mabel poked it in the shoulder with her rifle. That was her third mistake.

It grabbed the barrel and yanked hard, jerking the gun from her hands. That had been stupid of her, she should have shot it full of lead when she had the chance, but now her gun had vanished in the darkness and the thing was getting up, no wound in sight.

Mabel turned and ran, even though it was smaller than her and she could probably kick its ass, given the chance. She ran because there was a strange ringing in her ears and a buzz of sound flooding the area, like a orchestra of insects that should all be dead this time of winter. She ran because even in the dark, with clouds covering the moon, she could see something moving among the distant trees. And she ran because it was right on her heels, silent and horribly alive.

When Mabel was a girl, she used to scream all the time. She screamed when the dead tore at her skin, even though she knew they were only trying to help in their silenced, strange way. She screamed when the not dead tried to do the same thing, because they usually were trying to hurt her. She had learned not to scream, because the last thing you wanted to be in this business was a screamer, and it was especially the last thing you wanted to be as a woman in this business. You didn't scream, even when they grabbed you by the hair and pulled you down the hall, because screamers never got hired for anything, and she so desperately needed the money.

She doesn't scream now, weaving through the streets of Xanadu, even though it might help her. She doesn't scream as she spends half her time dodging obstacles of the living and the lifeless. She trips once, landing on her shoulder and tearing a new rip into an old jacket, and even though she can't see it anymore she gets up and runs anyway. It had followed her through the door, she wasn't going to escape it so easily. Mabel rounds corners while looking behind her.

That was probably going to be her fourth mistake.

Comments

returntous
Feb. 1st, 2011 06:52 am (UTC)
Mabel's not standing inside the circle when she's completed it to her satisfaction.

To be fair to Enfys, Mabel doesn't know what she's doing (hence burning down churches) half the time. Her knowledge on what she considers 'magic' comes from skeptical scholarly texts and the odd New Age publishing. She only read the latter when she recognized the names involved - most of them were bullshit, at least when it came to what she could do. As for what is was she could do, that was also an area of darkness. She could open doors to places like Xanadu (though usually worse), and had a level of success with basic warding commands, but she had no real idea of why.

"Shifting reality, losing time - we feel through a door of sorts, right, but none of us saw that happen. We just ended up here. That mark's tends to a warning, a notice that he's around, just like that masked little shit is a messenger. I didn't draw it on purpose."

Her expression gets tight again, as she rolls up the sleeves on both arms. Her scars aren't all that noticeable in such lousy light. She's wincing and she applies the mark to both forearms with the chalk as best she can; circle, slash, slash, circle, slash, slash.

"It always follows me." That message outta be pretty clear. Come get me; not them.

The buzzing in her skull is getting louder.