This Mortal Coil: Part Six

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
This Mortal Coil

David stays against the far wall, but moves over so he’s facing the door. Through it he can see a long room that reminds him of the old workshop his dad had in the basement of their house—narrow, full of shelves, with a table set against a wall that lacked only a vise to complete the picture. And it is empty: every shelf, every surface. Completely bare.

“The books are gone?”

Artemis nods.


“I don’t know,” Artemis says, voice hollow. “It’s… it’s not possible. The wards are intact—they must be intact, because the door opened. And if the wards are intact, then I am the only person allowed in this room.”

This Mortal Coil: Part Five

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
Esperanza Imperial Palace

Artemis LaFleur stands in a room he has not thought of for a very long time.

When he’d commissioned the construction of the Imperial Palace, he’d made it a grand and public affair. Set into one of the few mountains on the island, it would look out over his tiny nation, serving as both beacon and reminder of its new way forward. His quarters, it was reported, would be at the lowest levels—no dungeons here, just a secure suite for the island’s leader. This was in stark contrast to the previous “leader,” a despot who took pride in the dungeons and torture chambers of his own palace. It was also considered a reasonable nod to security, since the United States and Soviet Union had been locked in a desperate cold war, and the threat of nuclear Armageddon was ever-present.

There was another reason Artemis had wanted his rooms there, however. As soon as he moved in he began carving out a series of secret rooms beneath his own—a sanctum where he and those he trusted could plan in private. Rooms that, eventually, only he could open—he could thank Artigenian’s tutelage for that, for the spells that recognized their master and opened only upon his command.

This Mortal Coil: Part Four

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
Farraday City Bunker

“So,” Jenny says, “you’re a villain.”

Scrapper Jack doesn’t look up from his cards. “I figured the scar gave it away.”

“It is suitably villainous,” Jenny admits. It is—it’s a nasty, jagged thing that travels down the length of his left cheek, and it pushes the left side of his mouth down into a slight frown.

They’ve been playing cards all afternoon. Crossfire and CB are out running errands, and playing cards is better than just sitting around, awkwardly making small talk. It turns out Jack is a lot more amiable than he initially comes across, and Jenny has found herself slowly warming up to him.

He’s also not a bad card player, which means Jenny doesn’t feel obliged to pretend she can’t play.

This Mortal Coil: Part Three

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
Esperanza Capitol Library

All the thirst and hunger and pain and desperation crash down on him at once. His eyes are open but unfocused, unable to perceive anything but the color of the floor, and all he hears is a strange grinding, croaking noise coming out of his own throat. His body goes rigid, the world fades to white, and he is dimly aware that his head is repeatedly striking a brick wall.

A different sound filters into his awareness—muffled, but agitated. Someone yelling, perhaps? The white-on-white vision darkens momentarily, then he can feel something pressing against his head, keeping it from striking the wall. The sound returns, less agitated, more soothing. It means nothing to him, but it is calming, and a part of him, the part that is trying to return to rationality, focuses on it. Eventually the seizure passes. Eventually his body calms down. And, eventually, the sounds he’s hearing start to make sense.

This Mortal Coil: Part Two

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
Basement off Alley, NYC

Peter Travers peers through dirty curtains at the crime scene beyond. It’s now swarming with NYPD police and emergency rescue personnel, and he can see the beginnings of what will eventually be swarms of Federal agents beginning to arrive. Special Agent Phillip Henry is in the middle of it all, giving everyone something to do, and—more important—keeping everyone away from the basement where Travers and Special Agent Alan Grant are hiding.

Their basement is in an alley adjacent to the crime scene, and Travers can see enough from their street-level window to get a general sense of what’s going on. He sees Agent Hu sitting in the back of an ambulance, still wrapped in Grant’s trench coat but now also wrapped in a large, heavy blanket. A police officer is asking her questions. That was Agent Henry’s idea, Travers is certain, and it’s smart: her statement will become part of the police report, and it’ll be harder for whoever directed the DHS agents against them to suppress it.

Not impossible, but harder.