This is the continuing story of the Succubi called Storm Clouds…
Some rewriting and adding of things this week from Chapter 26 to 28… Few things that I didn’t like and others I thought were good things to add… We’ll see what happens…
Storm Clouds 185
Tom pushed Nina to the side of the elevator and out of sight of the guards, motioning for her to hold the elevator doors open. He stood opposite to her and tapped his gun against the elevator’s railing: “Four guards, one at the desk, three standing. Lousy odds. Got any ideas?”
Nina pressed the door button with her right hand and thought a moment, “Can’t kill them … can we, Tom?”
The look he gave her was one of disbelief, “You actually think I would do that?”
“No. You wouldn’t … but I would … if I had to.”
She took a quick look at the guards, “Well, two of them are the Dark’s pawns. As far as I’m concerned, killing them would be a mercy. The other two are innocent …”
“Nina, you can’t just kill for no reason. That’s …”
“It does, Tom. Regularly. It had Patricia killed for no reason.”
Tom took a long hard look at Nina, “You are not It; neither am I.”
Nina nodded in approval, “When we forget that, it wins.”
“So, what’s the plan?”
Nina’s tail swished slightly, “How about I give them something they’ll never forget?”
“Why does that tone bother me?”
Nina’s smile was a thin one: “Can I hurt them, just a little?”
Nina’s answer came in a shriek from the guards as they fell to their knees and then onto their sides clutching between their legs … while Nina looked at Tom with a smile he knew was much less innocent than it appeared to be.
“Scratch that. I don’t want to know.”
Tom looked towards the guards: “Really.”
“You’re no fun.”
“I’ll bet you’re a ton of fun at parties, too.”
Nina’s innocent smile became a smirk, “You are coming to my next one, Tom. Promise.”
“Great. Can hardly wait. Come on, time’s ticking.”
Nina’s tail and horns vanished into thin air, “More ways than one, Tom. Go.”
The two left the elevator and entered the lobby, making for the exit. Nina’s heels clicked loudly on the floor as she ran slightly ahead of him.
“Why all the rush to get out of here, Nina?”
“We screwed with two of the Dark’s toys. That means we’re officially on It’s shit list. And knowing it, that means any kind of trap that It’s got around here is coming our way.”
Tom looked around, seeing only the guards on the floor, while the rest of the lobby was empty. “Something’s wrong. This place should have all kinds of people around. It’s never this empty.”
Nina didn’t look back, “Feels like a setup doesn’t it? Probably is.”
“Great; just great.”
Nina kept her focus on the doors ahead of them, “Move your ass, Tom. Think later …”
They were about halfway to the exit when it happened. It wasn’t just that the lights went out, it was as if the entire world was pulled out from under them and was replaced by complete and total blackness. Nina turned and grabbed Tom by the arm as he stumbled and the two skidded to a stop. “Shit! Tom, get behind me, cover my tail.”
Tom moved behind Nina and had the weirdest feeling when her tail brushed against his back. He couldn’t understand it, but … somehow, he felt like he had felt something like it before.
“What’s going on?”
Nina was silent, looking around them before she answered, “Seems like Its trap was designed to scare the crap out of people and hold them in place until some of Its minions could deal with the problem.”
“Experience. There are stories about something like this happening in the past. Looks are deceiving sometimes and in this case I think they are. If It was here right now, we’d be in a world of hurt.
Tom lowered his gun slightly, “Which means what?”
“Which means the exit is likely still in front of us, but we can’t see the floor or anything else.”
“But the floor is there.”
“Has to be, right? Otherwise how are we still standing here?”
Tom nodded at that logic, “Okay, Professor Nina: what now?”
Nina’s tail wrapped itself around Tom’s waist, “Now I keep moving and you watch behind us. Whatever happens, don’t let anything get near my tail.”
Tom remembered what Nina had said about their tails and nodded, “Count on it. Get us the hell out of here.”
They moved slowly—much too slowly for Tom’s liking—but this was Nina’s world, not his. Nothing happened for what seemed like hours until Tom thought he saw something move in front of him and shot at it, the gunshot loud in the silence around them.
“Something came close. Couldn’t tell what.”
“And that’s definitely a bad thing.”
“Sarcasm just isn’t your style, Tom. Right. Moving faster. Keep up.”
“Never fast enough for me.”
They moved on, nothing else happening until Nina bumped into something with a thud and complained about it, “Damn it. Okay, found the wall. Door’s got to be here somewhere …”
That didn’t sit well with him, but he didn’t say anything, instead just following her movements, until Nina moved suddenly and a blast of light pushed at the darkness around them, before being swallowed up by it.
“This way out. Come on, Tom, move your …”
Tom’s attention was diverted to the light and the exit so he didn’t see part of the darkness… solidify… and then move in a rush towards him.
Whatever it was struck Tom in the chest and shoved him into Nina, knocking the wind out of them both. The next thing Tom knew, both he and Nina tumbled onto the pavement outside. He scrambled to his feet and moved to help her.
She was in trouble. Tom had gotten clear, but she was halfway inside the building, with something pulling at her legs and drawing her back inside, while her tail swatted at the blackness around her.
It looked like tar… or oil … or … it was hard to describe something that was the deepest black oozing out of the building. But one thing was very clear to Tom. Whatever it was had Nina … Camilla … both of them.
Nina clawed at the concrete and yelled at him, “Tom! Get the hell out of here!”
He closed the distance between them and shook his head slightly, “Sorry, Nina. Can’t do that. Can’t leave my partner.”
The look in her eyes was one that Tom had never expected: fear. “This time, you have to! This is something you can’t deal with! Get the hell out of here!”
Tom, to his credit, didn’t. Instead he took hold of Nina with one hand and started shooting into the building at the same time.
“No! Not losing both of you!”
Whether it was Tom’s bullets, Tom’s anger, or something else, he would never be able to figure out …
… but whatever it was just let go of Nina, rushed back inside the building and then slammed the door closed.
The two looked at each other …
“Persistent bastard, eh?”
“Obviously not as persistent as you.”
… and then the sound of metal shrieking made them look up as they both scrambled to their feet.
“Shut up and close your eyes!”
Anyone watching would have seen a window washing platform fall onto two people that had been unfortunate enough to stumble on their way out of the building and get in the way.
What they wouldn’t have seen was a purple puff of smoke and the smell of lemons in the air as Nina and Tom bampfed away …
Three simple little letters, but put them together and things get … complicated.
For Jane, it was truly complicated. Not that what Tera placed in front of her wasn’t possible; she had been in the minds of others before. The problem was in what would happen after. Would John hate her? Would he even remember her? Would he remember that she … liked him?
She found, to her surprise, that it mattered to her. Pushing a lock of John’s hair back to where it should be, she tried to rationalize her thoughts about him. Why did she find herself caring about him? What was it that made her do so? Why did she care about anyone? She never had before, never became close to anyone, really … except Patricia. That brought a sigh from her that made Tera arch an eyebrow … but say nothing.
Jane always put up a tough front when dealing with other beings, tried to be the sister who others didn’t mess with or cross. It wasn’t because she needed to be that way, not really. She did so because she needed to protect Patricia, because she was the older of the two of them … by ten minutes, but still she was.
When Patricia revealed to her what Tera had offered, Jane didn’t believe her. She told her twin that she was being told a fairy tale, a lie, that all of it couldn’t possibly be real. The most troubling thing was the calm, knowing smile that her sister had throughout their argument. When Patricia left and never answered any of her messages, Jane had no choice: she went through all of the things that were left behind and came upon a simple business card, then went to see Tera and demand that she give her sister back to her.
She had met Tera in that little brownstone. She still remembered the look the Receptionist had given her. It stayed with her because it was something she had never seen from anyone: pity. She thought that barging into Tera’s office would throw her off balance and Jane would have the upper hand. Now she knew better, but then … oh, how arrogant she was. She pushed the door open and only managed to take one step inside the door when she was brought up short.
That wasn’t because of Tera; she barely noticed her. It was her sister. She stood there in the middle of the room, looking like a mirror to Jane as she always did … except she didn’t. Jane stood frozen to the spot as Patricia walked to her, her white, heart-tipped tail moving behind her, a pair of white horns in her hair and … angel wings … She had angel wings, too …
Jane’s mouth was open, but nothing came out. She couldn’t believe that what her sister had told her was real, that angels, devils, and all of the myths of their childhood were not myths; they were real.
As cold as Jane was, Patricia wasn’t. Whether that was because she was the little sis, or it was just the way she was …
… Jane missed her so much and regretted so much more.
Her sister took a finger and pushed Jane’s mouth closed again before hugging her tightly, her wings wrapping around them both, and her tail … it was wrong that it wrapped around her right leg, and yet there was something … right … about it all …
… and Jane just cried more than she had ever in her life before.
“Shhh … It’s okay … I’m here, silly.”
“You left me!”
“I asked you to come with me. You didn’t believe me.”
“I … I can’t believe in fairy tales, Sis. I have to be strong for you, to protect you, to …”
… Jane found herself looking into Patricia’s eyes and wondering how they became so blue …
“You don’t have to believe in fairy tales. You have to believe in these tails …”
And Jane felt her sister’s tail give her thigh a soft squeeze.
Then, for the first time, she heard Tera’s voice, “You chose not to join your sister, Jane. Like her, you have free will, and you made your choice.”
When she looked at Tera, finally, she wanted to lash out at her for taking Pamela away, to force her to reverse everything and let her take her sister where she belonged: home, with her. Not here, not … “I want my sister back! You did this! You …”
“I did nothing except open her eyes to what could be. She accepted the impossible … You, it seems, haven’t.”
Jane pulled away from her sister, but refused to let go of her hand as she moved towards Tera: “I demand that …”
“What gives you the right to demand anything?”
“She’s my sister.”
“And she decided that she wanted this, freely.”
Patricia squeezed her twin’s hand, twice—which, in their childhood code, meant ‘shut up, stupid’—before she spoke: “Tera … she does not understand, that’s true. But she is a good soul, and she means well.”
“Meaning is not doing, Daughter, and …”
Jane couldn’t help herself, “You are not our mother! Our mother …”
The next words from Tera still hurt as she remembered them: “… died when you were born. You never had a real mother, neither of you … and no one will ever be able to replace her … I know … better than you can imagine.”
There was hurt in those few words, more hurt than Jane had within her, and she gripped her sister’s hand tighter than she ever had in her life.
“Ow! Sis! Chill out!”
Jane reflexively let go of Patricia, but then grabbed for her hand again with both of her own: “Sorry, Sis, really.” She then walked to Tera, her sister beside her.
Tera rested in an old high-back chair, watching the two sisters approach: “Where do we all go from here, then, Jane?”
Jane closed her eyes, “I think … I … I apologize.”
Tera placed her hands in her lap, tilted her head to the right, “For what … exactly?”
Jane was going to say “for being impolite” and nothing more, but decided that wasn’t the truth; “I’m sorry for not listening to Patricia. I should have put my fear aside and at least seen what she was talking about.”
“But it is, as you said, impossible.”
“Maybe I’ve forgotten how to believe in the impossible.”
Tera smiled. A smile that Jane would always remember, “We don’t do the impossible. We make dreams.”
Jane looked at her sister, “Then, I’d like my dream to be true.”
“What’s that Sis?”
Tera interrupted, “It won’t be easy. You understand that?”
Jane’s answer was simple in that moment, but now she realized that it meant so much more … “Wherever it is, we’ll be together …”
After that memory washed over her, Jane impulsively cupped John’s cheeks in her hands and then kissed him as she dove back into his memories once more, this time alone.
The room was full of smoke and she heard the ceiling being to crack and split. Then John’s arms around her and the world fell around them both. Before, how it really happened, Patricia never had the chance to do anything to help him.
But Jane could. From here on, things would be different.
Jane looked into his eyes underneath the pile of rubble. She swallowed the lump in her throat and managed a weak, “Hi.”
He groaned, the wreckage from the building on top of him, “What are you doing here, lady?”
A cough, a shaky one: “Looking for Mister Right. Are you he?”
Back at the nondescript brownstone at 69 69th Street, an odd event occurred, one that, even if Camilla had known about it at the time—wouldn’t have surprised her, to be honest. An old, beaten-up pickup truck rumbled up the street and parked directly in front of the path leading to the front door before Billy unfolded himself from the cab and stood there, looking at the place. He had actually dressed up—at least for him, he did. After all, putting on a new shirt and a clean pair of pants, to him, was dressing up.
He hesitated there for a while, thinking things over and looking at the place. It was much too classy for someone like him to be seen there. But he had been asked a favor. The thing about Billy was that he acted gruff and tough on the outside, but, inside, there was still the young kid that worried about every little thing he did and if his father would approve of it.
He was still standing there when he heard a woman’s voice, “Can I help you?” Turning, he saw that the question was asked by a woman with short, platinum blonde hair, dressed really nice, a quizzical look in her eyes, standing on the sidewalk and carrying a tray of coffee and what looked to be donuts.
“Um … dunno, Ma’am. I was looking for Camilla.”
“I believe she’s out of the office at the moment, would you …” As she said this, she struggled with what she was carrying and, just before she dropped everything on the ground below, Billy had moved around his truck and caught everything … including her.
Billy wanted to let go of her… and he really should have … but she looked at him and he couldn’t look away from her. She was really pretty and … stuff.
She didn’t say anything for the longest time either, just looking at him, and he at her lips, and … gosh she had a cute look when she was startled, and he just didn’t want to let go of her. Finally he did, very hesitantly, and then she shook her head as if to clear it or something, Billy honestly wasn’t sure.
“Thank you. The office would be madder than a swarm of bees if they didn’t have their coffee and snack.”
Billy managed an embarrassed smile, “Yeah, I get that a lot where I work. They don’t let me get the coffee anymore … say that it’s safer. Don’t blame them for that.” A bit of a sad look passed over her and Billy shook his head, “Not mad about it, Ma’am. Makes sense as I’m all thumbs, anyway.”
She considered that, “I think you sell yourself short. You did pretty good in helping me.”
“Ya were in trouble Ma’am. Wasn’t thinking about other stuff. Just helping ya.”
Billy had the weirdest thought as if she was testing him or checking him out or something. But that was dumb: she was classy and smart; he wasn’t, and he really did know that inside of himself.
“Well, you did help …” She paused, of course, because he hadn’t said his name.
She smiled—a real smile, too, not one of those fake ones that the people back at the waterfront gave him—and he didn’t know what to make of it.
“Billy. Nice name; I like it.”
Billy knew he was blushing now, he just had to be, what with the heat on his cheeks and the butterflies in his stomach. “Um … thank you, Ma’am.”
“You know, if you want, you’re welcome to come inside and wait for Camilla, if you want to, that is. There’s lots of space in reception and I’m sure it won’t be a problem.”
Billy looked away, “Not really meant to be in a place like that, Ma’am. Not my place and, besides, I’ll stick out like a sort thumb.”
She laughed—actually, she giggled—and, for a moment, Billy was hurt inside. He thought she was laughing at him, that he fell for her game and now was the butt of the joke like he always was. He started for the pickup, aiming to get out of there before anything worse happened, but found she had put her things in the box of the truck and taken hold of his right hand with one of her own.
“Not laughing at you, silly. Please look at me?”
Of course he couldn’t pull away from her, that wouldn’t be good manners … and she did say please, after all.
When he did, she looked at him and only him, “I’m sorry if I embarrassed you. I didn’t mean to, and I am really and truly sorry if I did.” Billy found himself looking at her small, dainty hand resting on top of his huge, meaty one and wondered why he didn’t want her to let go of it.
“Um. It’s ‘kay, Ma’am. No hard feelings or anything.”
“Tell you what. Why don’t you come inside with me? I’ll pop my stuff off inside with the Receptionist and we can wait for Camilla to come back. I know that no one will mind you waiting inside.”
Billy thought about this, sort of—it was kind of hard to think, considering that she was still holding his hand and worrying about him. “I … I don’t want to be trouble, Ma’am.”
She smiled and patted his hand once, “Donna. My name is Donna, and I really won’t mind if you use my name instead of calling me ‘Ma’am’ all the time.”
“Wouldn’t be proper to do that, Ma’am.”
She shook her head, “It’s only improper if you aren’t given permission to do so. And I have, so …” She looked at him, and looked, and looked more earnestly still until Billy finally gave in.
“’Kay, Ma …” Billy managed to smile, if sheepishly, “… Donna.”
“Thank you. If you want to carry the coffee for me, I’ll take the donuts, and then we can find a place to sit and wait for Camilla. How’s that sound?”
Billy turned and handed her the donuts before picking up the tray of coffee, “Ya know, I might spill the coffee.”
“You won’t. I trust you.”
Billy was rather proud of himself as they entered the building, and he even managed to hold the door open for Donna and not drop the coffee, either. For the first time in a while, that little voice in the back of his head that kept telling him he wasn’t good enough didn’t say anything.
That one single thing would, eventually, change Billy’s life …