[Some artists are mercurial. Some change their minds. Some test a hypothesis, then decide after the data have been collected whether or not their theory was correct. Others go with their gut. I don’t know which of these blurbs best describes my disposition, but I do know this: I’ve decided to give away Part One of Allen Tombes – Fire from Water in its entirety! (That’s chapters 1 through 20!) Perhaps, once you humans have had a chance to really experience this character’s plight and see the story through an entire arc, then you will go, “Hey! That wasn’t half bad! I want to support this author and help him make MORE stories like this one!” That’s my new plan anyway. Non-patrons will now get to read the first 20 chapters of the novella, and then decide if they want more… And—here we go! —RFY]
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 8)
The walk home was brisk and, thankfully, uneventful. Haro lurched ahead on all fours, scanning constantly in every direction, then lumbering back to Allen only to fall several paces behind. His huge shoulders looked to Allen like a giant bulldog’s, but his claws were long and knife-like, splayed out like palm fronds. Occasionally, he would lock-step with Allen for a few paces and rumble in his low, low voice, “We must hurry,” or “Quickly now,” and then race ahead again to scan for trouble.
They reached the house without incident, but part way up the walk toward the door, Haro stopped abruptly, wincing in pain, and backed away a few steps. He leaned back into a sitting position, but even sitting he was several feet taller than Allen.
“Go inside. Do not leave the house for any reason,” Haro said.
“Aren’t you coming with me?” Allen asked. The thought of losing such a powerful bodyguard left him feeling very small.
“No, I cannot. The house has been shielded by numerous spells that keep any non-human beings out. Once you are inside you will be safe until your brother comes for you.”
“Oh,” Allen said. “Spells?” he sounded doubtful.
“Just go inside, child. I will stay to guard the home from outside the protected area.”
“As will I,” a second, deep voice hissed. Allen smelled something like sour smoke, and a second lizard creature lumbered up. He was a darker red than Haro, and not as large, but still thick and brutal looking. He had several rough scars on the right side of his face.
“This is my brother, Oro,” Haro said, gesturing with his massive claw. Oro seemed to nod, slightly, and it reminded Allen of a huge tree he’d seen bending in hurricane winds on a news report once.
Allen waved awkwardly, and said, “Hi.” It felt ridiculous after he’d done it.
“Now go inside, brother of Christopher,” Haro said and fell back onto his front claws. He motioned with his head for Oro to move around to the back of the house, then Haro began marching slowly toward the opposite edge of the yard, his head moving and twisting again in all directions. Oro headed off in the other direction scanning with the same tenacity. Allen followed Haro’s movements with his eyes for a few seconds, glanced at Oro, who was already rounding the corner of the house, then let out a quiet, nervous whistle. Allen reached for the charm around his neck, found it with his fingers, and walked into his house.
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 9)
“What’s with the dogs?” Allen’s sister, Rose, asked as Allen shut the front door and locked it. Her voice startled him and he jumped. “Those things are monsters!” She was leaning against the window, her black dress swaying below her, bright red lipstick shining, and thick black eyeliner surrounding her eyes.
“What!?” Allen said, suddenly feeling his throat go dry.
“They’re gigantic, even for St. Bernards! Where did they come from?” she said.
“Oh, ummm, the one followed me home from Chaz’s store. It didn’t have a collar or anything, so…”
“There’s no way we can keep them, Allen. You know Dad hates dogs.” Rose leaned over to watch Haro move to the side of the house.
“I’m not sure why, but I don’t think those…” she turned to Allen, a very strange look on her face. “Something doesn’t feel right. The whole house seems—wrong. The air’s too thick. And those dogs, they aren’t acting like dogs. Not at all…” She was staring at Allen now, who was frozen in place. His hand gripped the charm around his neck, and the bag that Chaz had given him was hanging off his shoulder.
“Allen, what’s going on here?” Rose asked. Her voice sounded thin and far away.
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 10)
Allen looked at Rose, her eyes wide and darting from his face to the gargoyle charm in his fingers. Allen wondered what he should say to her, how much she would believe.
“Where’s Mom?” he said after an uncomfortably long silence.
“She’s not home. Wasn’t here when I got here. But seriously, Allen, what’s wrong? You look like you’re about to pass out.” It was the most she’d said to him in years.
Rose eyed the necklace clutched in Allen’s fingers, stepped closer to get a better look, and gently reached out to touch it. Allen jerked back. The bag on his shoulder slid off and clattered to the floor.
“Where did you get that,” Rose asked in a half whisper. Her breathing had become quick and shallow, and her face went even more pale.
“From Chaz. It’s a protection charm,” Allen said. Rose gasped.
“Protection? Protection from what?” she said.
“Chris told him to give it to me,” Allen said. He couldn’t help himself. The words wanted to come out. “He said I needed it.” Rose stumbled backwards a few paces and settled herself onto the couch. Her hands were shaking.
“Listen, Rose, there’s more…” Allen started to tell her everything, but stopped. Rose looked like she was about to cry. Allen sat down by her on the couch and grabbed her hand. Her eyes went directly to the charm and a single, dark tear slipped down her cheek.
“Protection from what?” she said, again.
Allen considered for a second, then said, “I don’t know what they are, some kind of monster or demon, I guess. They move like smoke, but they have claws and teeth. One of them came into my room last night, through the window, but Chris was there. He killed it. And there were others that were waiting outside, and he killed them, too.”
Rose looked lost. “I knew he was still alive,” she said softly, several dark lines now dripping down her cheeks.
“And those dogs outside, Chris sent them to guard the house. They—they aren’t really dogs. They’re these big lizards. Chaz called them Simmerons,” Allen said.
“Are they dangerous?” Rose asked, weakly.
“They’re tough, that’s for sure, but they can’t get any closer to the house than they are now. Someone, I don’t know who, maybe Chris, put a spell around the house to keep everything but us out.”
“God! I knew it! It felt like magic! God! I’ve got to call Krystal!” she got up and rushed to her cell phone sitting on an end-table by the door.
“Krystal?” Allen asked. “Who’s Krystal?”
“She’s the witch I’ve been studying with. The head of my coven.” Rose dialed with quick movements of her thumbs and started pacing back and forth, glancing occasionally at the window.
“You’re a witch?” Allen asked, his own face starting to look as pale as Rose’s.
“Not yet. I’m just an apprentice,” she said.
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 11)
Rose held her phone to her ear with her left hand and fanned her cheeks with her right.
“Hello? Krystal?” she said, and walked quickly out of the living-room into the kitchen.
Allen could vaguely hear Rose’s voice through the wall, but it was too muffled to understand more than an occasional excited word or two. He noticed the baseball bag that Chaz had given him lying on the floor and went over to it and brought it back to the couch.
Allen unzipped the bag and saw a long, dark, wooden case with a dragon etched onto the side. He knew what that was! It had to be the jade handled samurai sword—the one he’d desired, dreamed of, for two years. Also in the bag were half a dozen large flares, an eight-inch-long knife with a bone handle in a brown leather sheath, and a red wooden box about the size of a softball, ornately decorated with thin swirls of golden metal. Allen picked up the little box and something inside buzzed, clicked, and moved. Startled, Allen dropped the box and it fell back into the bag. Next to the box, Allen noticed a business card with something written on the back in what he instantly recognized as Chaz’s messy handwriting. It was a phone number and brief message: “Call me! A.S.A.P.!!!”
Allen settled everything carefully back into the bag, except the sword case and the business card, and zipped the bag closed. He heard Rose nearly yelling in the kitchen, but still couldn’t make out what she was saying. He laid the sword case reverently on his lap and looked at the dragon etching on the side. It reminded him of a large, shaggy dog, but with wild eyes and huge, curling claws. The box was a hard wood, stained a dark brown, almost black. There were two wooden pegs, each about an inch long, slipped through interlocking rings that worked as a lock. He slid the pegs out and lifted the lid.
Inside was the sword. His sword, with the jade handle, carved in almost the same shape as the dragon on the outer casing. The blade itself was covered by a wooden sheath, painted a deep green, with ornate gold swirls and a scene of a village next to a forest. Allen lifted the sword out of the box. It was heavier than he’d imagined it would be. He eased the sheath open, exposing the blade.
And then he heard keys in the door lock. The nob turned and his mother walked in carrying a grocery bag. She took two steps, set her keys on the tall, skinny end table next to the closet, and then noticed Allen sitting on the couch.
“Oh my God, Allen! Is that a sword!?” she screeched.
“Mom!” Allen yelped and snapped the sheath closed. He jumped up and ran to her, leaving the sword on the couch, and almost knocked the groceries out of her hands.
“Yeah, I’m happy to see you, too,” she said, “but there is no way in hell I’m letting you keep that sword. Chaz must have gone crazy if he thought I was going to be okay with that. He’s going to have to give you your money back. And don’t give me that look!” She hugged Allen, briskly, set the grocery bag on the couch and took off her coat. She opened the closet, kicked her shoes inside, hung her coat up, and clicked the door closed, then went back for the groceries.
Rose walked back through the door to the kitchen. “Okay, Allen, Krystal says she’ll be here in about twenty minutes. Oh, Mom!” Rose stopped, startled by her mother’s unexpected appearance. Her mother hugged her with one arm as she sped by on the way to the kitchen door.
“I wish you’d let me know ahead of time if you’re going to have friends over for dinner. How am I supposed to feed a house full of teenage girls?” their mom said, and continued on into the kitchen.
“Can I borrow your cell phone,” Allen whispered. “I don’t want Mom picking up the other line.” Rose nodded and pulled her phone out of her pocket.
“I need it back as soon as you’re done!” she said. Allen grabbed the phone, the sword, the business card, and the equipment bag and then rushed upstairs. He noticed, as he slipped through his door and set everything on his bed, that the sun was just about to set—and darkness was on its way.
[Oooooo… Spooky! What will Chaz say on the phone? What will Allen say to the witch, Krystal? What will Allen’s mom say to Chaz knowing that he gave Allen a sword? What will Allen’s dad say when he realizes that the house is surrounded by dogs? These questions and more will be answered in next week’s serialized chapters of ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER! The darkness is on its way! Better keep a light on!!! And don’t forget, if you are enjoying the story, head to the Primitive Patreon page and become a patron! If you haven’t read chapters 1 to 7, those can also be found on the Patreon page. Why not head there now and give it a look! Thanks for hanging for a bit!!! —RFY]
—Richard F. Yates
(Commander in Cheap of The Primitive Entertainment Workshop)