Opening Scene of "Gods and Demons" by BR Kingsolver
Gods and Demons
Book 1 of the Dark Streets Series
By BR Kingsolver
Copyright 2018 BR Kingsolver
A woman walking home late at night has a choice. She either can walk in the light and hope people will help her if she has any trouble, or she can walk in the shadows and hope no one sees her. I figured no woman in her right mind walked through dark alleys at night, so the predators should be looking elsewhere.
Of course, it didn’t require an IQ test to become a criminal, or a rogue Werewolf with robbery or rape on his mind. Maybe I needed to reevaluate my state of mind and my decision-making processes.
Three Werewolves in their Human forms stepped out of the shadows. A quick glance over my shoulder showed two more behind me. Under the circumstances, I didn’t think their intentions were honorable.
My sword whispered out of its sheath almost soundlessly, but I was sure the Weres heard it. I didn’t think I could take five Weres with only a sword, but mostly I hoped it would distract them. I surreptitiously sketched a rune with my other hand and spoke a Word under my breath.
A wild animal roared, filling the alley with a heart-stopping sound, and then the world caved in on the Weres standing in front of me. A dark shape fell from a roof to my right, landing on two of the Weres and knocking the third one against the far wall.
The shape resolved itself as an animal of some sort, maybe a large cat. Definitely a cat. It clawed the two men with all four feet. It bit one of the Weres in the head. I heard bones crunch, and he went limp. The third man moved toward it with something in his hand. The cat slapped him. His head swiveled on his neck, and I noted that as he fell, his face continued to look over his shoulder. The cat bit the second Were’s head and then turned to look at me.
The entire fight took only a few seconds. I shook myself out of my shock, and spun to face the Weres behind me. They stood frozen, but I guess my movement caught their attention. Proving they weren’t complete fools, both turned and ran. I was tempted to send the spell I held after them, but I knew I wasn’t alone in the alley.
Turning back, I discovered the cat was gone.
A woman walked toward me. She was no taller than my chest, and appeared to be a full-figured Mexican peasant woman—similar to many of the hotel maids in the city— dressed in blue jeans, a loose white blouse, and a khaki jacket. She had dark skin and a Mayan nose; her dark hair was hanging down her back in a braid as thick as my wrist. I shouldn’t have been able to see her eyes in the dark, but a thin ring of yellow surrounded her dilated pupils.
“Didn’t your mama tell you not to walk down dark alleys at night?” she asked in a Spanish accent.
“My mother said a lot of things I should probably have paid attention to.” I realized that I had seen her before—just an hour earlier at the club where I was listening to an Irish band—she had brushed against me at the bar when I was getting another beer.
She chuckled. “Perhaps we should find somewhere else to talk,” she said. “Before anyone decides to ask questions.”
Without another word, she turned and walked down the alley, stepping over and around the bodies of the Weres she had killed. I sheathed my sword and followed her. I wasn’t sure the sword would help me against a being that could turn three muggers into Werewolf tartare without breaking a sweat. Two of the Weres were shredded, soaked in blood, and their skulls were crushed. The third guy had a broken neck, but the side of his head and face were marked by four bone-deep slashes.
Whatever my mysterious benefactor was, she was absolutely the baddest woman I had ever met. I hoped that I would wake up in the morning and discover she was only part of a weird dream. Or maybe she wasn’t some kind of shifter. Maybe she was a mage and she’d called a demon or something. That thought didn’t make me feel any better.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“Okay. We need to talk.”
I stopped. The last thing I wanted to do was go anywhere with her. The whole scene in the alley was a horror show, and I just wanted to get as far away from it, and her, as I could. After a few steps, she realized I wasn’t with her and turned. I held out my business card with a shaking hand.
“It’s late, and I’m beat,” I said. “Come by my office in the morning.”
She took the card and nodded. “All right. Try to stay out of dark alleys. Buenas noches.”
I watched her walk away. She moved silently and with a sinuous grace that didn’t seem to fit her build. I released the spell I had been holding. Whether it would have stopped her—or her familiar—was something I wasn’t eager to test.
Not wanting to be followed to my house, I went to work rather than go home. I had a small cottage on the property where I lived when I first started the business. There was no chance of anyone invading it.
My landscaping business covered eighteen acres of prime real estate near American University. I couldn’t afford such land at current prices, as evidenced by some of the eye-popping offers I had recently received, but it was fairly cheap when I bought it forty-five years before. There wasn’t any way I could find enough land for a nursery close to DC if I sold it.
As I walked past one of the four oaks that anchored the corners of the property, a Fairy swooped down and landed on my shoulder. She chattered in my ear, mostly about one of the neighbor’s dogs, while I unlocked the gate and let myself in. I hoped that my Fairy nest would bury the evidence if they decided to deal with the offending animal.
Fred and Kate, my garden Gnomes, had already gone to bed, and no light shone from the windows of their mound. When I entered the cottage, it smelled a little musty, and I opened a couple of windows to let it air out. I hadn’t stayed there in a while. After a quick shower, I snuggled under the covers in a bed that felt comfortingly familiar.
- Updated: 17 February 2019