A Gift for the Holidays!



Hello everyone, Happy Holidays!!!

As we anxiously wait for the big day, I thought I would give you all a little gift. In my last class, I was to write a short story for submission as a final project. Having never written a short before I found this very challenging. My mind kept leaping into a full length story, because for me that's all there is.

Over the course of the eight week class I'd like to think I grew a bit as a writer. I can do a short story now, which is good, because I think they will come in handy in the future.

My gift to everyone is the story itself. I'm extremely proud of it, and hope to make it into a full series of books in the future. For now, I will be working on a cover, and will self-publish this on Amazon in the near future. So read it here for free while you can :)

So, now I introduce you to Skylar Ryan...

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Skylar Ryan

Rain trickled down on the city. The night looked shiny in the light despite it. Puddles covered the rooftop of the ten-story apartment building. It was a cesspool of poverty. Skylar thought it could use a good wash. Cracks in the rooftop promised water leaks, at least for the top floor residences. She thought how lucky she was to be on the fifth floor, yeah lucky. If that’s what one would call it.

Skylar Ryan put her foot up on the ledge to inspect the buckles of her black combat boots. She tucked her black leggings into her sock and stomped her foot back next to the other. She pulled her hood down towards her eyes a bit more and raised the zipper on her black leather jacket. It didn’t do much to keep her dry, but she was warm.

Looking out over the rooftops nearby, she propelled herself forward into a sprint. At the edge of the building she lifted herself and flew into the sky. Her mood had been seriously soured by the rain. As she drifted in the air, her arms above her head, it began to lighten. She started every night the same way, and every time her mood lifted. She knew she’d never experienced anything like the feel of the air as it caressed her body. Now, Skylar could never get enough. She let herself enjoy it, but after a few minutes, it was time to open her eyes again and get to work. Rain soaked through her leggings, but she didn’t care. She was hunting, and that took precedence over everything. That was the first thing Malcolm had taught her.

“Once you hit the air, that’s all there is; the hunt, nothing more, nothing less. Don’t forget it.” He tucked a strand of dark black hair behind her ear. It was the first time he’d touched her. She stopped counting when she finally realized his touch wasn’t mean to hurt her, which only took a year. Now she didn’t flinch when he reached out to play with her hair. She had let him gain her trust a little bit at a time.

Skylar never felt safe, until she was in the air away from the crowd of people and the confines of the buildings. When she was little, growing up in an orphanage meant she’d be forever in a horde of bodies. Bodies that traveled through the halls together, brushed their teeth together, ate together. When they had more kids than beds, they even slept together, but not Skylar. She slept in the corner of the room on a cold hardwood floor, just to be alone; to be away from the crowd. Once she was older, her favorite spot was the top of any building, as long as she was by herself.

When she’d turned eighteen and was no longer a part of the crowd, she was finally alone. Until alone wasn’t fun anymore. The lousy sum of a hundred dollars gifted to her when she left the home was gone, her stomach begged for food, and her body craved heat, that’s when her soul begged to be touched. It was a different kind of need. She didn’t want to be a part of a crowd, but she needed to be a part of something.

That’s when she met Malcolm. His curly blonde hair and freckles caught her off guard. He wasn’t what she expected; polite, well mannered, and comfortable. Being around him made her feel like she wasn’t alone anymore, but also, she wasn’t crowded either.

A scream in the distance cut through the rain. Skylar shook her head clear of her memories and focused on the hunt, just the hunt.

She moved from rooftop to rooftop, scanning the night between the buildings at ground level. Her vantage point allowed her to see a vast area at a time. Dragon eyes glowed purple and zoomed in to where the voices were starting to come from. They weren’t regular voices. No, people didn’t speak like this. Hissing echoed in her ears. A low rumble pushing its prey into submission. Planting a seed into the minds of the unsuspecting victims. She closed her eyes and counted to ten. Then aimed her body, hand pointed out in front of her, and found her target.

A blinding light erupted from her chest as she landed in a dark alley. Her body shifted, turning to a black mist, dragon mist. A great shadow of wings and talons. Scales and fire breath. She lifted her head, rearing backward and breathed in deep as she came to a stop in front of the man who held a woman by the neck. His hand pushed at the hem of her skirt. She screamed, thrashing under his touch. The man sneered. “Don’t worry, doll. I’m not gonna hurt you… much.” He pulled at the buttons of her coat. The woman’s umbrella discarded on the ground.

Skylar breathed out. Her fire breath coated the man, but it wasn’t normal flame, it was colorless and odorless to the human world. To Skylar it resembled the fumes of hard gasoline, emanating blue, purple and green flames.

The umbrella spun on its axis. A silver mist erupted from the man, and Skylar stopped her attack. The woman looked at him for a moment, shock paralyzed her. Then fear that he’d resume his attack had her grabbing her bag from the ground and running towards the street, not once did she see Skylar. The man fell in a heap on the pavement. The white mist evaporated into the air.

“Nice job, kiddo.” A Dark shadow fell over her, and the rain stopped. Skylar’s form returned, she shook the droplets from her upturned hair and smiled at Malcolm.

“Thanks. Level one mist. He’s toast.”

“Yeah, not much out tonight with the rain and all. Didn’t know you were hunting on this side of the city. Would have offered to keep you company.” He pushed his hands into the pockets of his duster and leaned against a dumpster. His work boots looked new, even for being out in the rain. His hair was slicked back, a new style he’d started since developing a like for James Dean. He looked at his watch and flipped his wrist to show off the dragon mark on the inside of his right wrist. It was light red, almost a rust color. The voices of the mists made it hum against his skin. Skylar’s was a bit smaller, the same color, but when she heard the voices it sang like a symphony performing for the mayor of the city, with majestic grace. When she fought a high-level mist, it was dance. A crescendo of energy that allowed her to move swiftly, and full of grace. Agile and stately moves of epic proportions. It was beautiful. On her feet, she was clumsy, mindless and taciturn. Malcolm changed all of that. He’d introduced her to the world she should have known of her entire life.

When Skylar was five her parents sold her for the money they needed to make their next score. A woman noticed her one night. She saw the state in which her parents were caring for her. Walking around New York City with a child in the middle of winter looking for blow. She’d had on a thin white undershirt and a diaper. Sitting in a stroller with a large blanket and crying so hard the tears wouldn’t come anymore, but the heaving sobs made her chest hurt. Her toes felt like ice blocks and her face, where the tears had frosted to her cheeks felt like they were cuts in her skin. Whoever that woman was in the real world didn’t matter to Skylar. To her, the woman was a savior. Even if she did drop her off at the orphanage without another word.

The woman had offered up all the money she had in her purse, and her parents took it. They told the woman her name, Skylar Ryan, and ran to the closest abandoned building. That’s where all the dealers were. Pick an abandoned black-windowed house and score.

Skylar found out when she was twelve, that the couple had taken advantage of one too many dealers and found themselves with extra holes in their heads. She’d seen their names in a newspaper the mistress of the orphanage was reading. When the woman yanked her away from the table and lifted her hand to swat at her, she yelled, “but those are my parents.” The woman got in one good smack to the face before she heard Skylar’s scream. The mistress assumed her tears were for the dead couple in the paper. Really, they were for the realization she was never getting out. Never breaking free of the woman and her horrid manners. Of course, she knew that before. She just didn’t let herself think about it. Until then. In that moment, she had nothing else to think about.

A cool breeze picked up, pulling a strand of hair free of Malcolm's head despite the gel. He feigned coolness. She could tell it was his act. His way of keeping people interested, but not too interested. Trying to be cool kept people from wanting to get too close. Skylar knew the mechanisms. She’d used them herself all her life. She was using one then too. The appearance of not being interested, when she was. She had her reasons for keeping people at arm’s length. Her parents being at the very bottom of the list. Malcolm had become a different type of issue for her.

“So, we gonna go hunt, or do you wanna stay and make sure this one wakes up.” He kicked the man’s foot. If it weren’t for the rise and fall of his chest, he’d look like another junkie on an overdose in a city alley. The only way he wouldn’t wake up, is if he’d been possessed my a level four mist or higher.

“Nah, we can go. He’ll wake, but he’s not gonna member his own name in the mornin.” She moved to the edge of the building.

Her favorite part was the takeoff. The release of gravity from around her body as it lifted into the air. Floating to the sky she looked up and let the wind sweep her hair from her face. She smiled, but it was gone before Malcolm made it to her side. With arms raised up and out, she spun on the breeze. The city smelled of rain in springtime, with a slight hint of gutter. The rain reduced to a light mist. A bit humorous for the job at hand. Since the demons, they hunted, were mist.

The night covered them. Bodies turned to black dragon mist. They rose and fell in unison, their bodies twisting in and out of the night. When the voices started to ramble, Malcolm shifted his course. He moved left, going south. Skylar moved right and dipped down into the city and changed forms. Her olive skin glowed under the incandescent lights over the freeway.

She spotted the white mist, a demon searching for a host. From her vantage point, she could see it was a level four. The biggest she’d seen in the city in over a year. She shifted to black mist. The dragon rearing its head ready to strike. A bright blue light flickered to her side. She was too close to the mist to abandon her attack. The light struck her causing her to take her human form. She tucked and rolled, landing underneath the monster.

It hovered over her. Almost starring at her, until it reared back its head and breathed out its white flame. Skylar’s arms flew in front of her face, blocking the liquid lava from striking her there. She could hear it laugh at her. Then a voice she knew spoke nearby.

“I told you, if I had known you were gonna be around here tonight, things would have been better.” Malcolm walked toward her. His work boots splashing the puddles around him. He stomped up next to her and grabbed her by her hair. “Maybe you should consider who your friends are.” He sneered at her.

What little bit of her heart that had mended, shattered as she considered his eyes. “I’ve never had any friends. Why should I start now?” She spat at his feet. She needed the wind so she could heal. She could get away, disappear where she wouldn't be found. She did not need to be an obstacle. Whatever he was doing, she wanted no part of it. Though she did wonder why Malcolm would choose the opposing side. What could he gain from working with demons?

She rolled to her side. The white dragon moved away from her, and closer to Malcolm. He was welcoming it. Speaking low so only the evil thing could hear him. When she tried to stand, he pointed a finger at her. “Oh darlin, I’m not done with you. Don’t move.” He had the gall to ask her nicely.

“I’ve never been one for following directions.” She reared her head back and breathed purple flames at the white dragon and Malcolm, alike.

“How’d you do that? Dragons can’t breathe fire outside of mist form.” A look of shock spread across his face as he scrambled back away from the heat.

“I told you once before, I don’t conform.” She was one with the wind once again, mist and flame. She rolled in the air, moving as mist in and out of herself. She was prepared to leave, and never return. Start fresh somewhere else, just as she’d always done.

However, it was time to stop running.

Skylar flew up as into the night’s sky until the air grew thin, then looked back down to the ground. With her dragon eyes, she could zoom in on Malcolm and his new friend. A level five mist was the highest the Company had ever tagged. So, a level four wasn’t the worst, but it wasn’t the easiest either.

Weighing her options, she took a breath and descended to the concrete bridge. The street lamp cast a bright light over Malcolm and the mist, making the demon almost impossible to see. So, Skylar went after Malcolm. She reared back, her black form streaked across the sky. When close enough she let her flames free over him. The gel in his hair fizzled and frizzed his curls. He stomped his feet and rushed into the air after her, but was too late. Her flames touched his skin and he screamed. Falling back to the street a flame, Malcolm began to roll around on the ground, but dragon flame was nothing like the red flames that seared everything to ash.

The white mist held to the side of the bridge. It seemed unsure if it wanted to attack. Skylar left it to ponder. She dropped down to the ground, one boot then the other. “What’s the matter? Too hot for you?” Skylar hissed at Malcom who still rolled around on the ground.

He veered up at her, his flame green and yellow, but short of his mark. “Who are you?”

“I’ve been asking myself that very same question my whole life. When you brought me to the Company, I thought I’d figured it out.”

“We can still have it all, Sky. Join me.” He was panting then. The pain obviously too much for him.

“It appears I’ve known one thing all along, people always disappoint me. Even the dragon people.” She spat at him.

She let her flames lose on him again. Malcolm screamed. His body shifted between mist and human form.

The white dragon mist made its decision as Malcolm started to die. It jumped into Skylar, sending her into shock. Her body convulsed, and fell to the ground. Black and white fought until only one remained. In the end, Skylar shifted, she shimmered as a silver mist. When her flames erupted, Malcolm met his end, and Skylar discovered who she really was. The savior of both races, and forever alone.


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