Monday Stories

New Fiction Every Monday

Month: June 2018

Morning King

“I’m not supposed to be here.”

Such was my thought that morning, when I saw the Morning King.

The day had held premonitions, from the moment of my awakening. I had showered and dressed in a fitful state, unable to put my mind to rest on any of a hundred pastimes or amusements, and had eventually left the house, intent to get some work done in the office if I was to be denied the further company of Morpheus.

As I left the house a thin sliver of a moon hung, just touching the tips of the mountains on the horizon. I stood, thrilled and immobile, terrified that mayhap the ancient gods of Greece or Rome were walking again, for here of a certainty was Diana’s bow.

I made my way to the train depot under this moon’s eerie auspice, and once aboard that conveyance I quickly became senseless to all outside my own rumbling, rattling carriage. The train seemed a living thing, a dragon rumbling low and fierce along its track, ignored by the sleeping masses as it prowled along its course.

In due time my station was announced and I ceased my moody woolgathering to alight onto the platform. The office was but a short walk from here, and I set out at a good pace.

Alas, the city has fallen into a state such that many could be seen making what accommodations as they could amongst the verdure along the sides of the roadway. I reflected sadly that these, the most noble of all of Providence’s creations, should be reduced to this state, and that society seemed either unwilling or unable to assist them in this condition. I was pondering further on my own culpability in this regard when my musings were again interrupted, this time by some commotion up ahead. One of these unfortunates, by look a young woman, was bounding down the lane, rounding a corner at a high rate of speed. All her worldly possessions were dangling loose from her arms, or hastily pushed into a large, shapeless rucksack on her back.

When she entered the main roadway she abated her pace and collected herself. However at this time my eyes were drawn to a figure beyond her, standing tall and straight on the pavement some forty feet ahead.

At first I mistook the figure for some new work of statuary, for so tall and noble was his bearing that it seemed impossible that any mortal man could attain to it. The illusion was further perfected by the grey-white hue of his clothing, looking so like marble that when a stray breeze ruffled his raiment I half wondered that the world would change so immediately.

I slowed my pace and took stock of my surroundings. Here were clouds, moving as they should through the firmament. Here was the sun, here were other passers-by, all walking through the world as if all were normal. It seemed only I was in this waking dream.

As I watched the poor wretch walked up slowly to the tall, noble man, whose robe, I now saw, was naught but a dirty and tattered blanket, light gray in color and mottled from countless nights sleeping on the earth. She set her belongings on the ground next to his and then circled him carefully, positioning herself so that the mysterious noble was between me and she.

“Surely,” I thought, as I walked closer, “this is nothing to do with me. I shall simply pass by these poor souls, and continue to the office. The world is as it always has been. This is no king of ancient lineage living rough in our fair city, it is simply a trick of the light and the erect posture of this man, who indeed has as much claim to human dignity as any…man…”

But at that point my thoughts faltered, for I had drawn close to him, and he fixed me with his eyes. Gray-blue they are, and clear as the breaking of dawn. His height exceeded even my own, yet about him was none of the softness that has entered into my frame owing to a life of leisure and indoor work. Nor was there about him an air of madness, but rather of mastery. I perceived in an instant that it mattered not of what material his clothing or cloak were made; had he been wearing sackcloth and twine his own being would have made them noble. It seemed to me in that moment royalty wore finery to project an air of nobility, but this man, this King of the Morning, his nobility transformed anything he wore into finery.

I tried to make some small obeisance and continue on my way, but I found my will draining away. His eyes stayed fixed on mine; in the periphery of my vision I could see the waif, sitting cross-legged on the ground, smiling as she watched her master at work.

He said but two words to me, and in them was contained my undoing. “Join us,” he said, quietly, and my will was no longer my own. In those words was contained an ancient covenant, that of liege and vassal. In his words I saw his world, that he and his court moved through our world but were not owned by it. The mores and standards of our civilized society mattered to him as little as the dew on the grass. I saw the rules by which he lived, free and principled, but not owned by any king or government. In his world, one’s word was still one’s bond, and each individual still held individual value, instead of the modern, interchangeability that–we are told–is the marvel of our age. I saw in his eyes a place of value, honor, and esteem held open to me, as this great Monarch lieutenant, the chief instrument of his will.

And in so seeing, I joined my will to his, and remember naught else.

You have laid great charges against me, and I believe them, though I do not remember perpetrating the crimes. I am accused of thievery, and I believe it. I am accused of vagrancy and I accept that, for I know that I have been following my King, and he lives not as mortal men do. I stand accused of drunkenness and dereliction and certainly I have drunk deep, though not of any cup that was filled from an ale-house’s cask.

I only know this, and let this be my final testimony: I walked with the Morning King while he would have me, and when he no longer had use for me he freed me in the streets again. Were this court to free me I could return to my former life, my former profession, little changed. I believe I could be of as great a service to my country as ever before.

But should the Morning King call to me again, for a day or a lifetime, I would again leave all and follow him, even to the gallows!

Friday Extra: Angel Liz Video Transcript

[Transcript of one of Liz’s online videos, titled “Angels, Demons, and how to tell them apart!!!”]

What’s up internet? This is Liz again, comin’ atcha to tell you all about two more kinds of people you’re gonna meet in the world: angels and demons.

But first I want to talk about a question I keep seein’ in the comments. People are always asking why I have the light behind me, why I’m sittin’ here in the shadows. What have I got to hide, right?

So here’s the thing. When you first clicked on one of my videos, why’d you do it? Because it was some shadow girl with a crazy headline about Witches or Goblins or Dryads or something. And you were like “Whaaaaat?” Right? So you watched it.

And that’s how it works. I gotta have a hook to get people to check this all out, and I’m cute and all, but I ain’t one of those model types who can use her looks to sell her message. Sorry guys.

So is Lizzie gonna stay in the shadows forever? No way! Don’t worry, ya’ll will see my face soon enough.

For now, though, let’s talk about Angels and Demons. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, hit that link there to go to the video that explains that just about everyone has something special in them. [link appears, links to a video entitled They Never Left: Goblins, Leprechauns, Vampires ARE ALL HERE!]

Now, like I’ve said before, just because you have something ‘evil’ in you don’t mean you’re a lost cause. Evil things like dragons or vampires have their place in the big plan just like good things like nymphs and fairies.

Like, take angels and demons. They’re like, kinda the same and kinda opposite. But they can both be useful.

The power of an angel comes from their…well, our, connection to the creative source of the universe. We build people, we make things better. We fix stuff. But what about demons? Aren’t they the opposite, like mamma taught you, or you learned in church?

Well, kinda, yeah. [laugh]. A demon is plugged into the destructive source in the universe. They break things down. They destroy. But does that mean they make things worse, just by bein’ alive?

Not really. I mean, think about it. Aren’t there times you wish you could get rid of somethin’ standing in your way? And sometimes thing’s ain’t worth keepin’ whole. Sometimes you gotta break stuff down so you can build new stuff in its place.

Or think about this: Which is better, a river of lava or a river of water? The water, right? But water breaks stuff. I mean, look at the Grand Canyon. Water is a demon. But Lava builds stuff. Lava built Hawaii. But nobody wants to go near any lava flows. They both got their place.

Demons and angels need to figure out how to use their powers to fix the right stuff and break the bad stuff. I mean, there’s probably something out there that needs broken, and you’ve been fighting it. Tryin’ to be civilized. Just go for it. Just make sure you know why you’re breakin’ it.

So how do you know if you’re an angel or a demon? Like anything else, just think about it. Try and fit this stuff into your head. If it don’t fit it’ll pop right back out. But if you’ve been listening to me and been like “hey, yeah, whoa!” Then you probably found out what you are!

Okay, that’s all for this time, gals and guys. As always, please like and subscribe and let me know what you’re thinkin’ down in the comments. And remember: don’t let people beat you down. Our time to rise is comin’, soon enough.

Byeee!

[Video fades to black]

Team Angel

“Hey, Tremain, check out what we found on this guy,” An officer said, and threw a rubber bracelet on Tremain’s desk. Tremain sighed. This wasn’t the right way to handle evidence or personal belongings. He stood up saying “man, you can’t just be throwing these things…” And then he stopped, because he’d just read the bracelet.

“TEAM ANGEL” it said, purple letters on a white band, with stylized angel wings on either side of the words. On the other side it said “LV for Liz”

“Oh for…” Tremain began and picked it up. He walked over to the officer, who was grinning.

“Who’s the perp…I mean suspect?” He asked, putting the bracelet into the personal effects bag that was still sitting on the officer’s desk.

“Didn’t realize your girlfriend was famous, did ya, detective?”

Tremain knew better than to answer that. “Which cell? And what did you bring them in for?”

“Cell Five, and public drunkenness. He was trying to start a fight on the Strip and the wannabes at the Luxor took him in and called us. We’ll give him a couple hours to dry out and send him home.”

“Sure. I’m gonna go have a talk with our friend. In Vino Veritas and all that.”

“Awwww, are you jealous, Detective? Afraid this wino is gonna steal your girl?”

It was gonna be another long night. Tremain grabbed a styrofoam cup of coffee and started pouring sugar into it. On an impulse he grabbed a second cup and filled it with orange juice. He walked to cell five, had the officer on duty open it for him, and walked in.

“Hey man, I got coffee or orange juice. What’s your pleasure? And before you ask, this one ain’t ‘Irish’, and this one won’t drive any screws.”

The guy looked up, eyes red and hands trembling slightly. He gestured toward the coffee cup. “Got any sugar or cream in there?”

“It’s black as my soul, but sweeter than my smile,” Tremain answered. The guy extended his hands towards the coffee. Tremain handed it over, and resigned himself to taking a sip of the OJ. He really wanted that coffee, but he could get some later.

“Thanks,” the guy said and took a sip and shuddered. “Holy… yeah. You weren’t kidding. That’s a lotta sugar. Well, thanks again, officer.”

“Nah man, I’m a detective. Detective Tremain. I didn’t catch your name,” Tremain said.

“Tony.” The drunk said and they shook hands. “What’s on your mind, Detective?” Tony asked. He didn’t seem like a typical rowdy drunk. He had a license, his address checked out; he was a local who had just had a bit too much on a Friday night. Early twenties, no ring but that didn’t mean anything on a Friday night on the Strip. Except there wasn’t any pale band where a ring would usually be either.

“Jus thought I’d come tell you that you’re heading home soon, give they guys at the desk a few hours to get though their paperwork. I can probably even make the ticket disappear. We’ve all had a hard night now and again.”

Tony tried to smile and winced. “Thanks Detective. But, what’s in it for you?”

Tremain forced a smile. “I was just curious about that bracelet you had on. We’ve been hearing about this ‘Liz’ for a while, but we didn’t know she had a team.”

Tony nodded. A little. “Team Angel isn’t a gang or anything.”

“I mean yeah, I figured. I’m pretty familiar with the gangs, and ‘Team Angel’ doesn’t seem like it’d demand a whole lotta respect from any of them. I mean, I figured it wasn’t anything like that, but what is it? Some kinda new church?”

“What, you think it’s like a cult or something?” Tony asked.

“Nah, man, nothing like that. Hey, I’m not trying to hassle you or anything. If you don’t wanna talk that’s cool, just enjoy the coffee, and I could probably bring you a couple of aspirin as well. I was just curious is all.”

Tony sat back and sipped the coffee again. “So, what do you know about Liz?” He asked. “And I could use that aspirin.”

Tremain gestured to the guard officer and asked for a couple of headache pills. She went and grabbed them, looking curious. This wasn’t normal, but you don’t question a Detective. She had also helpfully brought a cup of ice water. Nice touch.

Tony gulped the aspirin down and drank all the water as well.

“Liz is just…good. She’s not like, asking for money or nothing, she’s not like, having everyone move into her compound or anything. She’s just…I dunno officer, her videos are all online. She just, like, reminds people of who they really are. Like, she’s an angel, you know? But that means that all of us are something special. She talks about how angels and demons and fauns and trolls and stuff, how they’re all just like, kinds of people, you know? And if we want, we can tap into who we really are, and start to know what makes us all special.”

Tremain sat back. “So, Tony, what are you?”

“Me? Look, I’m just an accountant who had a few too many. Angel Liz talks a good game, yeah, but it’s not like I believe all that stuff. But…” Tony trailed off.

“Hey, safe cell, here Tony. I’m not judging you, man. I ain’t got the robes to be a judge.”

Tony half-smiled at the lame joke and went on, looking down at his lap.

“It’s just…well, look, when I watched her videos, she had one about what it means to be a…A Paladin.”

Tremain just nodded. “What’s a Paladin?”

Tony still wouldn’t meet his gaze. “You know, like, a white knight. Like, from History. Only…only Liz says that Paladins from history aren’t the real story. They weren’t just some order of knights. They were like, kinda divine. She says we all got something in us that can be more.”

“Hey, Tony, that sounds pretty cool, man. So you think you got some Paladin in you?”

Tony breathed deeply, still looking at his hands. Then he took a sip of coffee and nodded slightly. “I mean, even if it’s all crap, why not act like it’s true, yeah? What’s the harm in being a good guy?”

“That why you’re in here, Tony?”

Tony nodded again. “There was this guy givin’ a lady a hard time and I thought, yeah, that’s not okay. So I went and told him and things got kinda hectic.”

“They bring in the other guy as well?”

“I dunno man…Detective. I wasn’t thinking all that clearly.”

“Sure, sure. Well, if you ask me, we could use more white knights in this town. But, you know, maybe use your cell phone as your sword, yeah? Maybe just give us a call next time.”

Tony half-smiled at this. “Sure officer…Detective, I mean. And…I’m not crazy or anything, I don’t think I’m magic. I’m just kinda drunk and overreacted is all.”

Tremain stood up. “No worries, guy. A little crazy never hurt anyone. You need a refill on that, before I go?” Tony shook his head. “Nah, I’m good.”

“Okay. Well, I’ll tell the boys to get you out of here as soon as they can. Nice talking to ya.”

“Thanks man…Detective.” Tony said and laid back on the narrow bed.

Back in his office Tremain did a search on Angel Liz. Sure enough, she had a channel with a fair number of followers.

“Liz, Lizzie Liz, what are you doing?” Tremain asked under his breath. And then he looked at the corner of his screen. There was a sticky note there. That wasn’t surprising; his screen always had a wreath of memos and notes stuck to the edges; he’d resisted getting a newer monitor because he liked having a big plastic bezel to put notes around the screen.

But this new sticky note was pale blue and all his were standard yellow. It had one of those shortened web addresses you get, written in a very neat hand, slightly feminine; there was a lower-case “i” in the address and it was dotted with an open circle. Hey typed it into his browser and it pulled up a new, unlisted video. Posted only an hour earlier, meaning someone made this, got into his office, posted that note, and got back out while he was in the building.

The video was titled “Hi Detective!” Tremain swore quietly, under his breath. He pressed the intercom and asked if any other detectives were on duty. Front desk said no and he asked them to send someone in to watch this, it might be evidence or something.

An officer came in. “What’s up, Detective?”

“Just come watch this. The person who made it has a way of making things disappear, and I want a second pair of eyes to back me up.”

The officer looked confused, but came around Tremain’s desk and sat down. Tremain nodded and started the video. He began unconsciously stroking his short white goatee while he watched.

At first it was just dark, then someone turned on a light, facing the camera. The picture quality was poor enough that all he could see was that there was a person sitting in front of the light. They had a wild mass of hair more or less grouped into two ponytails, which glowed slightly from the backlight. One had hints of neon pink, the other was vaguely purple. The person was roundish, but it’s so hard to tell when you’re in shadow like that.

“Heya Detective!” The video said and Tremain found himself trying to analyze that voice. Alto or contralto, definite Southern edge to it, he’d have to get someone to listen to it, see if they could place her accent more precisely. Her voice wasn’t smooth, like a singer’s, or at least, not like a pop star. She could have sung jazz with Billie Holiday, though. Her voice was “husky”, or “dusky”, perhaps. A little rough, but not unpleasant to listen to.

“About those wristbands. I didn’t make ’em, and I don’t get anything when they sell ’em. But I kinda like it, yeah? I mean, what’s wrong with a bunch of people wantin’ to be more angelic?

“They don’t quite get it, but that’s okay, I didn’t get it until just a few months ago. I’m thinking you don’t quite get it yet either. But hey, people are lookin’ for something better than what they got, and that’s a good start.

“Anyway, about Tony boy. I never met the guy, but I think I’d like to. One of my friends told me he got into a bit of trouble because he decided to say enough’s enough. Again, I ain’t ever met him. I figure you’ll take care of him. The other guy was rattled a bit, sure, but he’ll be fine. That girl he was dragging around, she’s got a few things to think about now, though. If some guy she’s never met thinks she’s worth fightin’ for, maybe she don’t need to hang around that sleazy goblin that brought her to the strip.”

There were sounds in the background, and an echo to Liz’s voice. Tremain couldn’t quite place it; it seemed….open? Tremain used to think he’d be an audiophile but he never had the money to do it right. But he would play with settings on his stereo sometimes, and the video sounded like somebody set it to “concert hall”.

Liz continued. “And hey, sorry about this video. It ain’t quite time for us to meet face to face, not even on the Internet. So far all my vids are like this; and you know what? It just seems to make them more popular.

“But the day is coming where you and I will meet, and not long after that all of Las Vegas is gonna know all about ol ‘Angel Liz’.

“There’s something dark going on here, Detective. Darker than Sin City is used to, darker than the usual scummy mob ties and gang stuff. And you and I, we’re gonna break it open and expose it to the light.

“But not yet. Anyway, that’s all for now, Detective. Treat that white knight right, yeah? Talk to ya later. Bye!”

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