Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Faerie Hunter - Chapter 2: The Freelance Monster Assassin

I lay on the beach like a dead man, staring up at the sky and listening to the waves throbbing their beat against the shore. If seeing a mermaid was an unusual start to my day, then killing one, not to mention the stranger with his leather chaps, the chocolate he gave me, and the ability to breath underwater that I'd acquired then lost, was a bit too surreal to process all at once.

The stranger dragged Kyle up the beach and laid him next to me. He was now wearing only a pair of jeans. The webbing on his hands was disappearing rapidly. He hadn't spoken to me yet, and I wouldn't have thought it strange if he had just walked off without saying another word, leaving me to wonder if any of this had really happened. Instead, he bent over Kyle, studying the bite marks left by the mermaid.

Finally he turned to me and asked, "What happened to the mermaid?"

I sat up slowly, going over the details in my head. "She disappeared," I said finally.

He frowned. "Disappeared? You mean she left? Did you see which way she went?" His eyes began scanning the ocean, as if expecting her to suddenly appear on a rock.

"No, I mean, I stabbed her, and she disappeared in a mist of bubbles."

"Hell yeah!" he said unexpectedly, jumping in the air like he was celebrating a touchdown. The change in his mood was so sudden that I leaped to my feet in surprise. He ran toward the ocean and started picking up rocks and throwing them as far as he could.

"You stupid mermaid! You thought you could win against me, bitch? Well I've got a new weapon! And it's a hell of a lot stronger than you!" He kicked the sand on the beach repeatedly while continuing to yell and swear at the top of his lungs. Finally he turned around and walked back toward me. A smile was on his face.

"So you killed her, eh?" he asked.

"Yes," I stammered, confused. This hardly seemed the same man who moments ago was so solemn I'd doubted he'd ever laughed at a joke.

"Sorry," he said in response to my look, "My name's James." He held out his hand to me.

I shook it, mumbling, "I'm Brad."

"So tell me all about it! You killed the mermaid before she even had a chance to sing to you? That's quick work."

"Well, no," I said, "She actually did sing to me—"

"She sang to you?" he said, suddenly clutching my shoulders and looking at me with a new respect. "Alright, tell me what happened."

I began from the night before when Kyle had first told me about the mermaid and related everything about the swim to the cavern. When I came to the fight, and the mermaid singing to me, James did nothing but stare at me, his mouth wide open.

"You know, Brett," he said as I finished, "no one ever escapes from a mermaid that sings to him. You're the first I've heard of, and that includes myself. I usually fight those things with ear plugs. I meant to give you some, too, but you swam off before I could."

"Wait," I said, trying unsuccessfully to place James into a stereotype, "you fight mermaids all the time? Is it like your job?"

A self-congratulating smirk appeared on his face. "Not just mermaids," he said. "I'll fight any creature that kills people." He walked over to a pile of clothes I hadn't noticed, pulled out a business card from his leather jacket, and handed it to me.

The front read: James Hunter, Malevolent Magical Creature Extermination and Removal by Freelance. A phone number and an email address were listed underneath it. On the back was an image of a lion, like one you might see on a medieval crest, but strung at its side was a modern-day machine gun. The emblem popped out like a hologram an inch or so from the card.

"I kill mermaids, goblins, giants, trolls, wolves, zombies, dragons, whatever. If someone pays me to take care of their problem, I'm on it. And if you can't pay, but it's a real nasty problem, I'll do it pro bono." James walked back to his clothes and began dressing himself.

"Wait," I said slowly, "All those creatures—goblins, dragons, trolls—they're real?"

"Absolutely," he said as he zipped up his chaps.

I sat down in shock.

"Not just the bad ones, either." he continued. "Faeries, elves and dwarfs are out there too. And I can guarantee that you've seen them before today. They're everywhere. Though the elves tend to stay in the woods; don't like to be bothered. They're like the Amish of Faerie, sticking to the old ways as much as possible. But faeries usually hang around humans, so you've seen plenty before. They blend in with us."

"What about their wings?"

"They usually don't have them."

I shook my head, trying to come to terms with all of this. "So, you're a—"

"Freelance Monster Assassin," he said, putting on a t-shirt that said exactly that on top of the same emblem of the lion and machine gun that was on the card. "That's what I like to call myself, anyway. It hasn't really stuck well, though. Most people just call me 'Faerie Hunter.'"

"Faerie Hunter," I repeated quietly. It sounded right on my tongue. "So why don't people know about this? I mean, about all of the faerie creatures out there. Is it some big secret, or conspiracy?"

"Actually, you'd be surprised how many people do know," he said as he took his hair out of the pony tail and let it fall to just above his shoulders. "It's not a secret. No one cares if people discover Faerie, or if they don't. But most of the time they don't."

I nodded as if I understood whatever he was talking about.

As he put on his leather jacket, he walked toward me with a strange glint in his eyes. Feeling uncomfortable, like I was being assessed in some way, I stood up, staring back at him warily.

"Brett," he said slowly.


"Right. Brad. You're what, seventeen?"

"Eighteen. Why?"

"Just graduate?"



"Um, Six-one, actually. Why do you—"

"One seventy?"

"Why do you need to know my weight?"

He stared at me blankly until I started to get uncomfortable.

"One seventy-five," I replied, just to get him to stop looking at me.

"Hmm...brown hair, amber eyes, dark skin for a Caucasian..." He stepped around me and looked down at Kyle.

"Light brown hair..." he continued muttering, "Also darkish skin...probably five-eleven. How old is he?"


"So he'll probably be pretty tall, maybe taller than you."

He knelt down, and forced one of Kyle's eyelids open. "Are you the only one with amber eyes in your family?" he asked.

"I think so. No, wait. My grandpa had amber eyes. Is that...bad?"

"How tall is he?" he asked as he stood up again.

"He's dead," I said coldly, putting as much irritation as I could muster into the reply.

"Sorry to hear that. How tall was he?" he asked again, unfazed.

"I don't know, he died when I was twelve, so he seemed very tall to me."

"Do you work out?"


"Do you work out?"

"No. I play soccer though, and sometimes wrestle a bit. Why do you want to—"

"Very good. About what I thought. And you've only just graduated, so you haven't decided what you want to do with you're life. That's good."

I started at this. "No, I know what I want to do. I've got a scholarship to the University of California, and I'm going there for chemical engineering. My girlfriend's going with me."

James frowned at me, then walked a couple paces toward the ocean. "You following her, or is she following you?"

"No, it's not like that! I mean, we both liked the college."

"Would she go there if you weren't going?"

"Yeah," I said quickly, "She's got a scholarship too."

"And would you go if she weren't going?"

"Well—I wouldn't go there, I guess. I'd probably go to M.I.T. But I'd still do chemical engineering."

He turned back to me. "So you're following her, then."

"No!" I said, walking toward him quickly. "I've wanted to go into science and math for a long time! It doesn't matter what college I go to."

Suddenly Kyle started coughing. James quickly ran to his side as he spit up some water and opened his eyes.

"Where's the mermaid?" were the first words out of his mouth.

"Dead," I answered. "I killed her."

His eyes grew wide, and he tried to sit up, but James forced him back to the ground.

"Why would you do that? She was beautiful!" he shouted angrily. "Why do you always ruin everything for me?"

"Hang on, kid," said James, as he rummaged through his jacket pocket and pulled out a small vial of clear liquid. "It's not what you think. No harm has been done. Just relax for a second. Open your mouth."

He struggled a little, but it was obvious that he was too weak to argue, and he gave in to James, letting him pour the contents of the vial into his mouth.

Slowly the anger left his face, replaced by confusion. He groaned.

"What just happened?" he asked. "Was there really a mermaid? Did I—?" His face turned sour. "That song. She was trying to kill me."

"Don't think about it, kid. It's pretty much impossible to be unmoved by their songs." James glanced at me, smirking as he said it.

Kyle got up, unhindered by James, and began walking down the beach. I ran after him.

"Kyle!" I shouted.

He turned and shoved me as I got near. "Go away! Just leave me alone." He turned and started running in the direction of the beach house.

"Kyle! Wait!"

"Let him go for now," James said as he walked up behind me. "He'll need some time to sort out all of his emotions. The potion I gave him gets rid of the song in his head, but he'll still have some lingering desires and strange thoughts. And he's also recovering from the coma the mermaid put him in."

I stared down the beach, watching my brother disappear from view. Another figure appeared in the distance.

"Listen Brett. Brad, I mean. I've got to go perform a couple rituals right now, but I'll be checking in on you later tonight probably."

"Rituals? What do you mean?" The figure was now close enough for me to see that it was my girlfriend Lizzy, walking toward us.

"Nothing big. There are some people who just don't like anyone who goes around killing faerie creatures. So I'm going wipe your trail away, make sure that no one will realize who killed the mermaid. It's probably not a big deal, He'll just think it was me who killed her anyway, but I want to be extra careful."

"So now I'm a target? Great." I rolled my eyes. The simple act of looking out for my brother, trying to save his life, seemed to be turning into something that kept growing, eating away at the corners of my world. I pushed the thought out of my mind.

"Not after tomorrow morning," James replied confidently

"Why, what happens tomorrow?"

"The last ritual has to be completed at sunrise. Don't worry about it." He began to walk away from the shore. "I'll find you again tonight, alright? We'll talk some more."

"Wait!" I shouted after him. "Why all the questions about me?" But he never turned back. I would have run after him, but just then Lizzy reached me.

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