On All Fours
This was aggravating. Tom just had me moving from one spot to the next. He gave me no real indicator of what I needed to do. Just visit the vampire here. Go here at this time. Be here now. So here I stood, with a vial of vampire venom and a diaper bag. It was the strangest thing too. I was just standing on the side of the road waiting where Tom had told me to wait.
A woman, looking disheveled just pushed the bag on me and said, “I quit. You take this. Maybe it will do you more good than it did me.”
With that, she walked away and I was left dumbfounded. On to the next place on the list. In some ways, it was pretty interesting getting a chance to walk around my city by how it looked fifty years ago. It was a lot smaller now, and I regularly walked by things I only remembered reading about, like payphones and shoe-shining stations. Gas was pennies to the gallon. I felt completely rich until I tried to give the man a five dollar bill for a soda. He told me it was funny money and I should scram. I wish I had brought some change with me, I remember seeing quarters with older dates on them.
I saw a peculiar woman walking down the street. The woman looked very pregnant, wearing an all pink dress that bloated out with her stomach. She had a little girl, perhaps six or seven, running around her, barking. She also had a baby that she was pushing in the stroller. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted anything to do with that many kids. I saw a video once; Samantha made me watch it. It wasn’t a baby, it was a fist, but whatever direction a thing that size was going, I imagined I wasn’t down with it.
Perhaps I was supposed to give her the baby bag. It seemed like another piece to the puzzle. I had played a few of those point and click adventure games in my youth; it felt oddly familiar. Next, I’d need a string to tie to the box to capture the mouse. I’d then release the mouse up a girl’s dress to get into the backroom of the… I was thinking about this entirely too hard.
I moved to give her the baby bag. At the very least, I wouldn’t need to carry it anymore. The woman had stopped at this point and had pulled her baby out of the stroller. She was distracted looking at something in one of the windows to a boutique while she struggled to feed her baby. The little girl was prancing around, jumping up and down. Oddly, she went to all fours and back, almost like she was a puppy at play. Then she darted into the street.
I dropped the pack without a second thought and raced after the little girl. She went down to four legs again, and the two little ears popped out of the top of her head. There was a honking and the little girl stopped, turning to look at a bus as like a dog staring at headlights. The truck wasn’t slowing down. I dove head first, shoving the small girl aside. The smack on my side didn’t feel like much. It was my body as it rolled over the roof of the vehicle that I knew things were bad.
I slammed down onto the ground behind the vehicle, hearing a resounding pop as my leg broke. I stared up at the sky, my body in a complete daze. A woman raced over to me, it was the mother wearing pink. She stood over me, a clear look of panic.
“Oh dear, oh no, a human too. Katrina, get your little butt over here right now young lady!”
One thought shot through my body. There was the vial of vampire’s venom. I reached into my shirt and found the vial still in one piece. I slipped it out and took a sip. Fortunately, my body was still in shock. The pain was only starting when a feeling of warmth shot throughout my body. My leg creaked as it spontaneously straightened itself. My arm snapped back into place. I could feel a few broken ribs setting on their own. It was the oddest feeling. Not exactly painful, in fact, it felt exhilarating. It was a complete rush, and when it was done I felt like a million bucks.
The woman hadn’t seen me take a sip, but she had seen me repair from the damage. I stood up, brushing myself off. The woman rose with me. She seemed surprised, but not as surprised as a human might seem to find someone spontaneously heals themselves.
“Oh my god, ma’am, are you alright?” The truck driver jumped out of his car. He was bleeding from his head and looked in almost as bad a condition as I had just been.
The pink woman turned with a sour look on her face, “Of course she’s not alright, and you almost killed her!” She snapped, “You’re lucky she came out of it completely unscathed.”
The driver looked dizzily at me, a skeptical look on his face.I did still have some blood on my face and my clothing was torn to bits. I felt great, though.
“Just you worry about yourself,” the woman waved her hands, “God works in mysterious ways. I’ll handle the girl. Just go get yourself to the hospital. You look like road kill.”
The woman grabbed me tightly on one wrist, then went to grab the little girl Katrina, who had once again slipped away. The woman looked back angrily to see little Katrina carrying the baby bag I had brought.
“This is hers, mama,” She said light-heartedly.
The pregnant lady sighed, tossing the bag on top of her stroller, grabbing her daughter and me, and ushering us down the street. When we had made it a block or two away from the gawking spectators, she turned to me.
“Well dear, it looks like I owe you an apology and an explanation. My name is Janine and this is my daughter, Katrina. So what are you? I see all that pixie dust on your pants you’re getting everywhere, are you half fairy?”
“No ma’am,” I answered politely, sensing she was a no nonsense woman, “Just glitter.”
The woman nodded, “I do apologize. We were supposed to have a babysitter to help out, but she stormed off without warning. She got one little bite from my daughter Katrina and started panicking about lycanthropy. Like being bit actually turns someone into a werewolf.”
“It is fine ma’am. I’ve been around werewolves before.”
The woman evaluated me sharply out of the corner of her eye, “Is that so? I suppose I do get a lot of confusing smells from you. Mostly vampire, though. However, underneath all that I smell human. You wouldn’t be a ghoul, would you? No… I suppose not, you don’t smell dead enough. Although, I’d advise you to stay away from the like of vampires, very depressing those guys are. Next thing you know, they talk you into a suicide pact when they can’t fill their side of it!”
“I…” I failed to interrupt.
“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really harbor any hatred for vampires. The whole vampire versus werewolf thing came a long time ago. We had one little war a thousand years ago that destroyed half of Europe’s population and everyone thinks we hate each other. Now they call it the black plague and blame it on some kind of bug. Can you believe it? They think a bug can kill people.”
“So are you a babysitter by chance?” Janine went on like an avalanche, glancing over at my bag, “How would you feel about a job?”
“A job ma’am?”
“Well, first let me buy you some new clothes. It’s the least I owe you for saving my daughter. After that, I could really use a nanny. I was brought down here for the summit. I guess the Grand Archangel of the summit is having a little trouble keeping his son under proper supervision. And when the Grand Archangel says come, you better wag your tail and get over there.”
“Would the boy be Andreatis?”
“You’ve heard of him? That makes this so much easier. Come, let’s get you into something more formal.”
Before I knew it, Janine was leading me into a small boutique to begin dressing me. Dressing me was exactly the word to describe it as she tore off my old cloths and started throwing new ones at me. She apparently knew the boutique owner, who met her with open hugs and kisses. The two then began to chatter with each other as they grabbed item after item for me to try on. It quickly became clear that my input wasn’t necessary for this.
“Have you heard about who is running the summit?” The shopkeeper whispered over to Katrina’s mom as she took my measurements.
“About the necromancer?” Janine shivered visibly.
“Who’s that?” I asked before I could stop myself.
The two ladies gave each other a look before Janine turned back to me with a smile on her face, “Never you worry about him. He’s just a powerful and dangerous man. A human, like you, but keep your distance from him. Even the Archangels and demons step lightly around him.”
I frowned at that. I wanted to ask more, but it was clear neither wanted to say anything else about it. The shop owner had tossed Katrina a stuffed animal, which she started carrying around in her mouth, occasionally shaking her head rapidly causing it to flap about. Katrina’s mom finally picked out my attire, moving up to the cash register to buy it as I flopped down on a nearby bench.
She had decided on a long, thick light blue dress complete with an apron in the front. She insisted it was proper servant attire and would do me well in the babysitting business. She told me that whatever I do, I should dress for success. Offer babysitting and I could make some money. Dress as a babysitter and come presenting myself as one, and I could make a career. Personally, I felt like Mary Poppins in this getup.
Katrina moved up next to me, putting her head on my lap. Chewing sounds caused me to look down. She had now opened up the stuffed animal and was pulling the stuffing out with her teeth.
Her mom eyed Katrina and I up and down, “Well, you two seem to be getting along. Did you kill it good, Katrina?”
Katrina nodded enthusiastically, her wolf ears twitching as she spit the dead stuffed animal out on the floor.
I smiled politely, “She kind of reminds me of a boy I know, Daniel, he’s a werewolf like you guys.”
“That’s a pretty name,” Katrina giggled, “When I have a kid, I’ll call him that.”
“Aren’t you a little young to be thinking about boys?” I implied.
The pregnant woman snorted, “It’s never too young to be thinking about boys.”
“And if I had a boy, I’d want him to mate someone just like you!” Katrina laughed.
My face went white, I didn’t like where this was going.
“That might very well be possible. Now Katrina, if you want your babies to mate with a certain girl, give her a good sniff, and hold it in your memory.”
Katrina went over to me and sniffed. It was a single long snort that ended when she started coughing. She fell over and giggled some more.
“What?” I whined with panic in my eyes.
“Oh don’t worry, it’s just an old wives’ tale. They say moms always end up choosing who their pup’s mate will be based on their taste of smell. You don’t need to worry about it, by the time this one has a pup who is ready to mate, that’ll be some forty to fifty years from now. If it even did work, it’ll just be some girl that happens to smell like you.”
“You don’t say,” I dropped my head into my hands.
“Although if there is any justice in the world, Katrina will find a man like my husband. You know the type, rippling muscles, dedicated, strong, and earthy. When my husband and I first met, I was in heat. He sniffed my butt. I sniffed his… well, you don’t want to hear about the romantic stuff. But I will tell you this, if you find a man, find one that isn’t afraid to go shirtless.”
“Or pant-less,” I said before I could help myself.
“Oh, if Katrina could only be so lucky,” the mom almost visibly shivered.
I looked down at Katrina and shook my head. Daniel’s mom? I really needed to stop doing things in the past. I kept thinking I was just an unlucky victim, but it’s slowly looking like I did this to myself.
“Don’t worry, if the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I’m betting Katrina will find exactly that kind of man.”
“As a human, you normally wouldn’t be allowed into something like a summit. However, I’m making a special exception because I need a smart girl to help me watch all the little ones. This kind of thing hasn’t been attempted in a thousand years. If the necromancer wasn’t here, well, let’s just say this entire city could end up a giant crater in the ground if things go bad.”
I visibly gulped and Janine must have noticed, “Oh, don’t worry dear, I’m sure things won’t go bad. The demons and angels have been vouching for a treaty for a while now. Now the kids might be the problem. I hear some demon kids had been brought to this event as well. The goal is to keep them apart. The last thing we need is one kid punching another or setting their hair on fire. It’ll be your job to watch the angels. I guess the demon’s brought their own servants, good riddance.”
It was several hours later now. I had long since figured out that this had been Tom’s plan from the beginning. I managed to infiltrate the summit. I felt a bit like James Bond minus the Pussygalore. Wait, were all the boys in my life considered my Bond women? This thought process wasn’t getting me anywhere. I had to focus on what was coming next because Tom’s rather short to-do list ran out of instructions. I had no clue how the Time-traveling alien and his evil cult were going to break up the summit. That was a sentence I’d only be able to say once in my entire life.
We came up to a large building that resembled a massive cathedral. I didn’t recognize the building. I would have remembered a massive church in the city that looked as gothic as this one. I looked around to orient myself and then realized that this was located where a department store had recently been erected. They said there used to be an old church that mysteriously burned down many years ago. Why did I have to remember that particular fact right now? I took a deep gulp; this was not going to go well. I tightened my grip on the vial. Just two doses to go, I could do this.
When we stepped into the building, the pews were lined with groups of men and women. One side consisted of people wearing light colored clothing. A few of them almost seemed to glow translucently. They buzzed nervously, throwing nervous looks at the group on the other set of pews, a group of drearier looking people. The other group typically wore reds and blacks. There were a few demons that resembled what Reginal had turned into on that one fateful night. They had red skin and large protruding horns. However, even they wore suits, which looked particularly odd on a demon.
A man jumped down in front of us, seemingly coming from nowhere. I flinched with a squeak. Janine squeezed my hand and leaned over to me, “Be strong, you’ll be okay.”
“Well, if it isn’t Janine,” The man chuckled harshly, “Why have you graced us with your presence?”
“Hello, Stine,” Janine responded tightly, “I’m here for personal business. The Archangel himself asked me to be here.”
Stine sneered, “What business does the Archangel have with you? It is male werewolves that can serve as guards. Most of you women can’t even change unless it’s a full moon.”
“I’m here to watch his children.”
Stine puckered up his nose as he walked to the side, giving me a dark look as well before looking down at her stomach, “Another kid from that bastard husband of yours?”
“You lost to him fair and square, don’t be petty.”
Stine let out an angry bark directly into Janine’s face. She involuntarily flinched a bit but held her ground.
Stine turned back to me, “And what is this? A human? A pet of yours? You know they’re not allowed. I’ll take this one and dispose of it.”
“You will do no such thing,” Janine snapped.
Stine’s hand suddenly shifted into a stronger more animalistic hand, large protruding claws shooting out. He reached for me and I froze in my place. Janine attempted to block his advance, but he shoved her aside with relative ease, causing her to bump into the baby stroller. Katrina was hiding behind the stroller, a wide-eyed terrified look on her face.
“Stine!” A shout came from up front, “Get out of their way, I’ll be needing them.”
Stine stopped almost instantly, looking back at a tall blue eyed, blond hair man standing in front of the church. He had a strong, masculine chest, beautifully delicate features, and was swathed completely in white. He looked like an older Andrew, and I realized that this must be the Grand Archangel, Andrew’s father.
The man looked at Stine with a clear gaze that afforded no nonsense. The man growled, and then leaped away, a single bound taking him over the pews and up to a balcony overlooking the chapel. I could now see other werewolves on other balconies. It appeared they were functioning as the guards here. Janine dusted herself off with just a hint of a blush on her cheeks. She turned back to me.
“I’m sorry about that. He was an old childhood friend. He wanted to be my mate, but when my husband came along he lost the fight. Never did get over it.”
I nodded numbly, not sure what else to say. After she had calmed down Katrina, she began to usher the group of us up the chapel aisle to the front of the church. As I got closer, I could see everyone on the pew more easily. Andrew’s father stood with another man who wore dark cloths and had fire red hair. In between them was a terrifying being that resembled death himself.
The man wore a black cloak that covered his entire body, complete with a hood. I could barely make out his face swathed in shadows. It was wrinkled and sunken in. The eyes and cheekbones were almost skeletal in appearance. He had a long bony hand that held a large staff equal to his height, a glowing red stone sitting on top of it. He exuded an air of terror just by his very presence. That had to be the necromancer.
The red haired man was arguing with the necromancer and I could finally make out the words, “…in a church is just absolutely an insult. To demand a bunch of demons sit and negotiate on a holy ground spits on our entire culture.”
As we approached, the necromancer held up his hand, shockingly silencing the Archdemon with a single motion, “This church has worshiped God for some time. However, it was also the site of a satanic cult. They sacrificed virgins, summoned demons, and created pacts, not twenty years past.”
The red haired man scratched his chin, “Is that so?”
“So you see, there is no better location. It is a place that possesses both a history of darkness and of light. A place of both holy and unholy worship.”
Andrew’s dad now seemed less confident at that statement, but he had the better sense to avoid saying anything. He turned away from the pair, excusing himself as he took a few steps off the podium and bowed to us.
He looked over at me, “A human? You are a gutsy one, Janine.”
Janine shrugged, “My other nanny stormed off, and this one has knowledge of the supernatural.”
The Archangel looked me up and down. I fought the urge to turn my head and blush, instead opting to meet his eyes head on. They really did resemble Andrew’s eyes. Was this the kind of strong, focused man that Andrew would become?
“I do sense a great deal of familiarity coming from her. I also sense protective magic placed over her. It is both angel magic, and demon magic, and more besides.”
Janine’s eyes widened at me, but the Archangel continued, “A girl who both demons and angels alike would protect. I have never heard of such a thing. Perhaps this summit really can usher peace for our peoples.”
The man nodded to the right, “I have him in the back. Please relieve my advisor so he can be present for the negotiations. My son already ran away once today; just keep a watch on him. Being a father is never easy, but a son never understands when the father must attend an entire realm.”
Andrew’s father turned away, walking back up to the podium. I continued to watch him until Janine tapped on my shoulder. She ushered me on and I nodded to her. We headed into the back room, a long hallway wrapping around to the back of the church. I was about to babysit a guy who not too long ago I had wanted to kiss. This was a supernatural Jerry Springer episode just waiting to happen.
I opened the door, and the scene before me caused me to immediately freeze. There were several men standing in the room wearing dark red robes. Andrew was struggling as two of the men had a hold of him and were trying to drag him out a back door. There was a man on the floor unconscious with a small pool of blood under him. I was betting that was the advisor. The group stared at myself and Janine in shock.
I immediately pulled out the vial and downed another dose. In a swift motion, I shoved Janine, Katrina and the stroller back through the door.
“Get Andrew’s dad!” I shouted, slamming the door in Janine’s startled face.
I turned back to the men as a surge of power flowed through me. One of the men tried to dodge around me, most like to grab Janine before she could make it down the hall to warn the others. He was impossibly fast, but with the venom flowing through me, I matched him for speed. I grabbed him and shoved. The man had not expected me to be that fast or that strong, and ended up careening into a table.
Another man descended on me, I turned to him as he tried to throw his arms around me. My enhanced strength broke through his grip, but only just. He threw a kick that hit me in the gut. Even with the venom, it hurt and I lurched forward. Another two men had successfully wrestled Andrew out the door and were dragging him into a car.
I grabbed at the man, but he easily overpowered me. The strength of the vial was already weakening. I pulled the vial again to take the last dose. The man saw it and slapped the bottle from my hands. It landed on the floor and rolled away. I tried to pull away to jump for it, but he overpowered me. The man who had been tossed into the table recovered, casting a spell over the door before turning to the one that had me.
“Just take her with us!” He snapped, grabbing my legs as I tried to kick my way free.
The two men carried me out like a sack of flour, tossing me into the back of the car. One of the men leaped into the car I was in and the other jumped into a second car. The door leading into the backroom exploded open; the magic sealing it was torn apart in seconds. Andrew’s dad, open rage on his face, burst into the room.
“Go! Go! Go!” a passenger shouted to the driver.
He pressed his foot to the gas and the car shot off. The Archangel ran out the back door, but the cars had already made it out of the alley. He bellowed, a shot of lightning and an explosion filling the air behind the cars. Static rose in the air around me, causing my hair to lift from my head. However, it suddenly dissipated, the car gaining too much distance from the angry Archangel.
The robed man finished tying up my hands and feet, then dropped me into a seat right next to Andrew. I looked over at the boy. He seemed to have the same cold, placid look he had this morning. It was as if this whole kidnapping was boring to him. I lowered my head down, fighting the tears. I had failed. The summit was broken.