- 2023 Awards
- Previous Awards
- Resources For Authors and Writers
Another Fairy Bastard
Book Award Category
Book Cover Image For Book Award Published Book Submissions
In Another Fairy Bastard, Dalton Graham discovers a gruesome murder in the apartment across the hall and learns that he was its intended victim. He goes on the run from Fairy assassins, sorcerers, demons, and even a homicidal prince—accompanied by Umi, his college crush turned martial arts....
Logline or Premise
In Another Fairy Bastard, Dalton Graham discovers a gruesome murder in the apartment across the hall and learns that he was its intended victim. He goes on the run from Fairy assassins, sorcerers, demons, and even a homicidal prince—accompanied by Umi, his college crush turned martial arts protector. She tries to buy him the time he needs to master the magic that is his birthright, before he and everyone around him end up dead.
The smell of waffles, cigarette smoke and a scent to be named later, mingled in the sea-green Berber covered floor of the hallway, making me hungry and nauseous at the same time. I didn’t see anyone in either direction, which surprised me, given the cacophony of sounds I had heard coming from there only minutes before. All things considered, at least it had woken me up when my alarm clock had not. Ten minutes later, I was fully showered but only half dry, I hopped though the doorway, trying not to fall over as I finished tugging my left shoe all the way on. I cinched down the strap of my brown leather backpack now slung across my other shoulder as I cleared the doorway. Blinking several times at the too-bright lights of the apartment hallway, I prepared for a mad dash to class.
The door opposite mine was partially open and the doorknob hung at an odd angle. I stared at the number above the door for easily the hundredth time since I moved in, 267, it was close enough to my own 276 that I met the guy at least once a week when our mail got crossed. We weren’t exactly fast friends, but I knew him well enough to be concerned for him.
“Jinx, are you in there, man? You okay?” I said, my head leaned in just past the threshold, far enough to hear a reply without appearing like I was trying to snoop. Guy etiquette demanded it.
No answer, great.
Well, I could ignore it, call the police, or walk in and see if everything was ok.
Since I was already going to be late to class, I was tempted to call the police as I walked the ten minutes to my San Diego State University class. In retrospect, Jinx smelled like pot more often than not, and I would hate to see him locked up because he was too stoned to figure out how to use his key. He’d tried to enter my apartment in that state more than once when he was too far gone to know better. I never did the stuff myself, but as he harmed no one in the process, I didn’t want to be the one to open him up to scrutiny from the police. Too many people getting shot nowadays for the wrong reasons.
In for a freaking penny…
I nudged the door open with my foot, not wanting to touch anything that I might leave fingerprints on. Wow, talk about watching too many cop shows.
It moved about another inch and stopped. That was weird. I looked to see if anyone else was watching me, but saw no one. With a mental shrug I pushed the door again harder, this time with my knee. It moved another eight inches maybe.
“Jinx?” I called out quietly.
I heard a thump behind the door.
If I was smart, I would have left then.
I stuck my head in to look behind the door and yelped as a hand reached out and yanked me by my hair through the door. The owner of that hand was strong enough that I was through the door and headed for the floor before I knew what happened. My self- preservation instinct kicked in and I unconsciously put down a hand and a knee to keep me from sprawling on my belly.
I heard the door slam shut and pivoted around to take in the scene.
Jinx lay face down in a pool of blood, his own I would guess. His blond curls were a tangled pink Rorschach in the morning sunlight that spilled in through his sheer curtains. He was shirtless, and I could still see a tattoo on his back that said “You can’t argue with stupid”.
The hand that pulled me into the room was attached to a pale man with long, wavy, ash blond hair and ropy arms that looked like they were chiseled from stone. He stared at me, his pink tinged blue eyes looking as wide as mine probably were. I don’t think he planned on getting interrupted.
He whistled, a trilling shriek that sounded more bird than human.
Okay, I was officially freaked out.
I heard another whistle, like his, but subtly different, coming from outside, not sounding close enough to be on the balcony, but maybe on the ground underneath it.
“You’re him, aren’t you?” He paused for a moment and then continued, “We asked him, but he said he didn’t know what we were talking about. You were in the wrong apartment. See what happens to people who don’t cooperate?” he asked, gesturing towards Jinx. I was pretty sure it was a rhetorical question.
I knew I needed to get out of there. If Ghostly-locks here had another friend who was planning on joining us; then I was probably a dead man, too. Who hires dyslexic goons, anyway? My apartment was always 276. Dumbass.
I tilted my head downward, letting walnut bangs cover my eyes while they panned the room. I looked for anything that might help me get out. He might not be able to see my eyes, but he knew what I was doing. He slowly withdrew a bone hilted knife that had been sheathed, in of all places, Jinx’s kidney. The grizzled blond wiped it off on my erstwhile neighbor’s plaid slacks. Evidently dead men did wear plaid, who knew?
I wanted to scream or wake up, but couldn’t decide which, so I just kept my mouth shut.
Okay, the coffee table was too big to use as a weapon, I couldn’t get enough leverage to do any damage with it. There was a remote within reach, but unless I could bore him to death by flicking on a Hallmark love story, that wasn’t my best bet.
Nothing…nothing…something? I’d seen it a couple times. Jinx’s bong, an ornate blue green swan with a silver head and wingtips, might do the trick. It was mostly glass, but maybe if I hit him in the head it would be enough.
My new friend whistled again, and this time I heard an answering whistle back out in the hallway. I was out of time.
I flipped the table towards him, although it was so heavy, scooted robustly might be more apropos. He laughed, a deep, maniacal, broken sound that rumbled in his chest, sounding oddly incongruous with the man before me. He stood to his full height then, Jesus, a good 6’6 if he was an inch and kicked it back at me. He had enough strength to send it back with a vengeance. It bounced off my thigh, eliciting a curse as I sidestepped as best I could and grabbed the swan. Grimacing in pain, I grabbed the bird up and thrust it between us. He laughed at me, well, technically giggled, a sinister giggle if there is such a thing. I’ll have to look it up sometime…
“I can do better” he said, amusement and condescension dripping from his lips. With that he flipped his left hand upside down and gave me a bird of his own. I raised an eyebrow.
The beak of the bird was a little pointed where one imbibed, but I’d have to score a hit on his eye for it really to do any good. I knew the other whistler was fast approaching and I had no other option. I swung the bong with all my might, and he swung his blade to block. The knife was so sharp it severed the glass head at nearly a forty-five degree angle. He brought the blade back across so fast the only way I could avoid it was stepping inside his swing. I did and was rewarded with a knee to the groin so hard my whole body spasmed. Check please. I think I made a sound like a pig makes when someone sticks it with something pointy.
The muffled sound in front of me made me think he was laughing again, but as I looked up I saw the neck of the bird where he had severed it with his freaking knife, sticking a good three inches into his throat. I hadn’t even been aware of it when his knee connected. There was blood everywhere now. He reached for the bird, which I wasn’t even holding anymore and my fight or flight instinct took over. I smacked the bottom of the bird as hard as I could and drove the tube of its neck deep into his skull.
He continued to make gurgling sounds while I raced for the balcony, needing to make it out before someone else came in. I could hear footsteps in the hallway now. I charged though the already open sliding balcony door, knocking the screen door clear off the frame. I saw another blond man, of smaller stature, standing about four feet beyond the balcony on the ground below, a lookout maybe. He was not looking at me yet, but he was standing between me and freedom. I took two quick steps planted my hands on the rail and vaulted over, letting the lookout soften the impact of my twelve-foot drop.
One foot struck his back and the other his head. I rolled as the rest of me hit the ground and started running, not bothering to look back and see if I was being followed. I heard sounds, scuffling sounds and some yelling in a language I didn’t understand, but just kept hauling ass. I’m not the world’s fastest runner by any means, but I can tell you I’d never had adrenaline and fear coursing through my veins before. This was the first time I was running so fast I felt completely out of control and off balance.
I cornered the adjacent building at top speed. I heard voices nearby but had no idea if they were Jinx’s assailants or not. Instead of running for the gate of the complex, my original intent, I angled to my left towards the white plank fence which defined the perimeter of the complex. It was easily six feet in height. I certainly couldn’t leap it, and there wasn’t much to grab onto in order to climb it. Something told me, however, if I tried to make it through the front gate, I would be a dead man. My best chance for survival was to get out of the complex and out of sight as quickly as possible.
Thinking as quickly as I had ever done in my life, I saw half a dozen bags of mulch propped against the fence about forty feet further on and calculated the trajectory. Running as fast as I was, I’d likely take a nasty spill on the other side, but if I was still visible when my pursuer rounded the corner, I could pretty much hang it up.
With a mental grimace I kept my speed and about six feet before the mulch pushed off with my right leg, launching myself upward towards the top sack of mulch. I hit it with my left foot squarely and propelled myself upward, my left hand grabbing onto the top of one of the planks, and twisted my body with every bit of strength I had. My body flailed awkwardly, clearing the fence, moving almost backward on the other side. I came to a hard three-point landing on right knee, right hand and left cheek. Stars swam in my vision as pain said hello and happy day.
I pushed up; glad nothing was broken and sprinted through the back door of the Taco Bell, startling a woman who nearly dropped her tray when she saw me barreling towards her. I leapt over a vacant booth which was between me and the front door courtesy of a hand plant on the knee wall beside it. I was out the front door in less than three seconds. I turned right as I exited the building and continue running, trying to put as much distance between me and my pursuers as I could. I ran about a hundred yards to the north and darted through four lanes of traffic as I moved farther away from the apartment. I scarcely slowed as I coursed through an alley which divided the strip center in two marginally equal halves. As I cleared the side of the drycleaner’s I ran through its parking lot and crossed another street. This time I turned left and hugged the side of Tres Compadres Authentic Mexican Cuisine, its mint green exterior somehow seeming a calm oasis in the midst of the chaos that surrounded me.
I wanted to stop and hide somewhere but had the feeling that wasn’t a good idea.
Instead, I grabbed a skateboard propped up on the wall of the smoothie shop beside it. I ran another block to the top of the bridge which spanned the thoroughfare beside the main entrance to SDSU. I put the board down there and used the decline to pick up more speed than I could have done merely running. I hadn’t been on a board in three years, but some things you don’t really lose. I ducked under some scaffolding beside the student center and pushed it for all I was worth as I started to descend towards the halls at the back half of the campus.
As I took the corner on the building beside the one housing my Plagues of the 20th Century class, I had to kick the board out or I would have hit two girls headed into the building. I took the roll on my shoulder in the grassy square beside the entrance.
They stared at me like I had three heads.
“Thank you. Thank you very much,” I muttered, sketching a quick bow.
Ignoring their stares, I headed into the building and made my way up the stairs to my classroom. I didn’t know where else to go right now. This was probably as safe as anywhere. No one would kill me in front of eighty other students…would they?
I certainly hoped not.
I made my way into the classroom, went as far from the door as I could, to the row of chairs closest to the window and sat down in the chair one up from the back.
I reached for my backpack to get the water bottle inside and cursed when I noticed I didn’t even have my backpack anymore.
I knew I had it when I left the house. I knew I had it when I helped Jinx’s assailant find his swan song. I remembered shoving it back over my shoulder when I tumbled to the ground underneath the balcony. I didn’t remember having it with me after I sprung over the fence. Great.
The classroom had somehow filled up while I was mentally retracing my route. There were eighty-something students registered for the class. On any normal day there were about fifty present, and for the rest of the world, evidently today was normal. I was familiar with about a third of the class, knew maybe eight of them, and was friendly with two or three. The professor was a junior professor, serving time teaching a required elective that no tenured professor would be caught dead teaching. He was late as usual.
I was just beginning to pull out my phone to call 911 when he walked through the door and closed it behind him. I took it as a reprieve. I had just witnessed a murder, or the aftermath of one. Hell, I had just committed one of my own—with a freaking bong no less. Smoked his ass, my inner smartass supplied. I giggled loud enough that a few people looked in my direction. Glad I could laugh, I guess. I knew I had defended myself, but I was still feeling a lot of guilt. I focused on Paolo, the professor, while I let my hindbrain sort out what I should do. He droned on about one disease or another while my mind wandered. Well, not really wandered, let’s say sped down the corridors of my brain, found the dead end and turned back on itself—again and again.
I was still doing that when there was a knock at the door. The professor was as surprised as anyone. He excused himself and opened the door part way, and talked to someone for a moment. He stepped into the hallway and closed the door behind him.
I knew that whoever was here was here for me. I could feel it. I could feel menace behind the wall. That was a first, I never considered myself psychic or even particularly sensitive for that matter. I knew death waited for me there, though.
The windows didn’t open until the third pane up. I’d have more luck crashing through one than climbing through it. There was a door at the back of the classroom, but it was always locked. No real exits except the one I came in through.
I am not here. I am not here. I am not here. I kept repeating the mantra in my head, like a child hiding from monsters in the dark. I felt like if I said it enough and meant it enough it would be real. Welcome to Insanity-R-Us. It didn’t stop me from saying it though. I let my eyes slip out of focus which probably made me look like I was about to have a seizure, but I didn’t care. I felt like I might slip into unconsciousness at any moment.
I heard a little gasp behind me, but didn’t take the time to look to see who it was. Whoever it was, they were not as dangerous to me as whoever was behind the door.
I am not here. I am not here. I am not here.
The professor walked back into the classroom with two uniformed officers behind him. I didn’t see a lot of detail given that I was letting my eyes do funny things. I did see a man and a woman, both quite tall with ash blond hair. Their uniforms seemed kind of tight. I could feel them in addition to seeing them. They felt cold, but a cold that was somehow wrong, somehow one that burned in an unwholesome way. Okay, I was certifiable now.
All three of them were looking in my direction.
…not here. I am not here. I am not here.
I could see that one of them, the one on the left, was holding my backpack in their outstretched arm. It looked to be coated in blood. No way to tell if it was Jinx’s or Mr. Sunshine’s. My vision was doing funny things at this point. I could feel them more than see them. I don’t know how else to describe it.
I could see Paolo’s lips moving, but could not hear what he was saying. Everyone turned almost as one and looked at me.
Not here. Not here. Not here.
Many of the looks were startled, and a few looked back and forth in my direction without any indication they had seen me.
Not here. Not here. Not here. Just a desk and an empty freaking chair.
“He was here before,” I could hear Eva, an attractive Columbian girl who I would have guessed didn’t really know I existed, saying. It sounded like the words were coming through water, instead of the desk two aisles over and three places up.
The police seemed skeptical. I could see they felt something wasn’t quite right. They began walking over towards me.
Not here. Not here. Not here.
They passed Eva’s row and kept walking slowly towards the window.
Shit, I was screwed.
Not here. Not here. Not here.
They reached the end of my aisle and I saw their eyes start to go a little glassy, like my own were feeling.
Over there. Over there. Over there. I screamed in my head. I willed for all I was worth that they would see me back by Eva, so I would have a chance to get away.
I nearly snorted when I saw me standing beside Eva. I knew me. That was the face I stared at every morning when I shaved. He was me. The me that wasn’t me bent down and kissed Eva, much to her surprise. She smacked me—well, that me, anyway. I could feel it remotely, kind of like a physical echo. I could certainly see it. I knew I was blushing. I stared, or the me that kissed Eva did anyway, at the cops for a moment, then flipped them off with both hands, made a smooching sound, and ran out of the room. The cops started, the female drawing and firing as her partner fell a pace behind her. In my head I urged my doppelgänger to run back to the bridge and hop over it into traffic to lose them.
The blond pair gave chase, occasionally pausing to fire. I saw them out the window now, running after the me that was running towards the bridge at a speed I would never be able to match physically.
As soon as they passed from my sight, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“We should probably get you out of here now before they come back,” said Umi, a Japanese student who was in about half of my classes with me.
I was shocked. I nodded, stood up, and made a beeline for the door. Hell, I would have gone on a double date with the Devil and his sister if it would have gotten me out of that room any faster.
I was three steps up the aisle when I noticed everyone was staring at me, the real me, now.
“What the hell?” exclaimed one.
“Where did you come from? I just saw you leave,” said another.
I head Eva’s voice jump three octaves as she screamed.
I sped out of the room with Umi in tow behind me. I wasn’t sure why. I also didn’t know how she saw me when no one else had. For that matter I didn’t know why no one else had, or where the other me had come from. No time to stop and think now, I would sort it out later.
Ohhhh! Fun start!
I loved this. Lots of action, mystery, drama, and magic!