It didn’t, of course. Thea was still around, although she’d emptied the safe house we’d used. She said it was probably shot, that we’d been there too long.
Instead, she was renting a little studio apartment across the river in Rosslyn. I didn’t ask how – housing costs in DC being what they are. That was part of my despair, but the obvious solution was now bubbling up in my brain.
Once I was out of high school, there was no reason to stay in DC. I could fill a suitcase with everything I cared about and hop a Greyhound to somewhere cheaper. But it would also have to be somewhere I was needed.
Or maybe the trouble would follow me. Which it was right now. The shadows closed in as I tried to make it back home from work. Then I changed tack and course. I didn’t want to lead whatever was following me back to the group house to descend on my unsuspecting (minus one) housemates.
So, I took a different street, which took me further into the bad part of northeast. A few months ago, appropriately warned, I wouldn’t have taken my white skin into the place. This was where the really bad gangs hung out, the ones that had started in Los Angeles and spread east. Most of them were Hispanic, and now I saw them, the desultory grouping on the street corner.
Did I want to lead it even into them? Maybe, maybe not. I started to lean towards not. That same sense I thought hadn’t been working properly was flowing through me again.
Maybe it was something that showed up when I needed it, but I knew, knew with everything within me that they were just a bunch of lost, mixed up kids with nothing else to belong to, and I didn’t want to hurt them further.
But it was too late. The shadows surged past me, and that was all they were, shadows, investigating them, flowing around them.
Then back towards me. Apparently, I was more interesting than a bunch of gangsters. I wished for my sword, even though I knew it wouldn’t be any use against it.
What would? It wrapped around me and it smelled foul, but more an old man’s tobacco breath kind of foul than of the grave. Kinda like this one teacher we had who chain smoked and had that scent constantly around his clothes. But with a hint of sulfur to it.
Stale tobacco and sulfur. Joy. Not something I could fight physically, but it just seemed to want to wrap itself around me and hug me.
Ugh. Then I felt it trying to tug at me…at my self…maybe it was some kind of vampire, and I got mad.
Really mad. Red in my vision shaking heart racing mad. I hadn’t ever been this angry, or rather I had, but didn’t remember it.
Couldn’t remember it. “Get away from me!”
Dimly, I heard one of the gangsters yell something in Spanish. Probably about crazy white chicks.
Like the kelpie, this thing wanted to feed, but it pulled back, perhaps realizing it had bitten off more than it could chew.
It was a demon, I decided. A demon that might be driven off by something holy, and it was turning back towards me. There was a church nearby. Churches made me uncomfortable enough that I’d wondered about myself, but I was betting it would make that thing even more so. I ran for the church, with the thing pursuing me, got inside and closed the door.
It did not follow me. Outside, I heard running feet as the gangsters scattered. I hoped it didn’t catch any of them.