Hey y’all, here’s Chapter Nine of our epic switchblade-and-sorcery e-novel, Those Who Create and Destroy. The novel’s almost finished and expected to come in at around 250,000 words. While we’re putting finishing touches on Parts 2 and 3, we’ll continue releasing Part 1 in weekly installments on Wednesdays, with audiobook and e-reader formats coming soon.
—Mabel & Cass
“Falling Asleep on a Stranger”
story by Mabel Harper & Cassidy Webb
written by Cassidy Webb
Content Warning: DYSPHORIA, REFERENCES TO GORE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT
Rory drifted in and out of sleep all afternoon, jerking awake several times from vivid nightmares. An especially memorable one was of looking down to find a filth-covered Juliana Nimri in his arms, bound and begging for mercy, while he gripped the handle of the athame lodged in her chest.
He was lying awake on his bedroll, afraid to let himself drift off again, when he finally heard the stamping of Ordinator boots, a jingling of keys, and the thudding of Jules’s cane approaching in the hall. He pushed himself to his feet and shuffled readily to the front of his cell.
“Let’s go.” Jules looked him in the eye for half a beat, then averted his gaze.
A pair of Portillo’s Chicago dogs, french fries, and cheese sauce were waiting for Rory, along with a duffel bag of his stuff Abby had brought from Mom’s house, in the Enforcement conference room with the big Auctoritas Magicae seal on the wall, where Jules took Rory to get his eyewitness statement. Rory was more than a little surprised Jules had gone to the trouble of picking up what had been his self-professed favorite fast-food meal back in the day. To his regret, Rory couldn’t put away two loaded beef franks and a tub of fries anymore—he wasn’t thirteen and in the middle of a runaway growth spurt—but he resolved to wolf down as much of the meal as he could stomach.
Jules sat in silence across the table from Rory while he ate, poring over a stack of old leather-bound books he’d brought with him in his satchel. He had changed at some point, out of his work clothes and into a Mouse on the Keys t-shirt, worn jeans, and red Chucks. Rory wondered idly if his habitual smacking still annoyed Jules as much as it had back in the day. He half-expected the alchemist to look up from his reading, dark eyes wide, and say, Christ, Rory. Close your fucking mouth.
“Did you do your tattoos yourself?” Rory asked impulsively, around a bite of his hot dog.
Jules looked up at him as if he’d forgotten he was there. “Yeah.” He resumed his reading.
“Dude, that’s fucking rad. And they’re activated by touch?”
“They’re activated when the channels come in contact with reagent material at the same moment I complete one of the arrays.” Jules displayed the partial circles and symbols tattooed on his right finger-pads and palm.
“Jesus. How the hell do you do that as fast as you do?”
“Practice. Lots of it. Are you ready to give your statement?” Jules set aside his book.
“I guess so.” Truth be told, Rory wasn’t looking forward to it. The details of that night weren’t something he enjoyed calling to mind.