“Jac, check this out!”
“Trying to sleep here, Walls,” I grumbled, ignoring the fluttering sound beside my head. Trying was the operative word. I hadn’t slept soundly in two years. Not since UMass. Still, sleep deprivation could prove deadly for someone like me. Some people, however, can’t appreciate the importance of a good nap. Wallace was one of them. I rolled away from the rattling paper and pulled my pillow over my head.
“Come on, just take a look,” he insisted. The paper in question was being shoved into face.
“Knock it off,” I said swatting at him blindly. “You papercut my face and I’ll switch the station’s entire coffee supply for decaf!”
The paper stopped moving. “You wouldn’t.”
“It would probably be good for you,” I muttered. “And good for the rest of us that need to catch some sleep rather than be stuck awake for a full twenty-four hour shift.”
“You’ve been in that bunk for the last two hours, you lazy ass.”
“Exaggeration,” I countered. “Go away.”
“It’s called hyperbole and my point still stands. Come on, get up.”
“It’s called taking advantage of a nice quiet day while I have the opportunity.”
Wallace shook the paper threateningly and I tossed my pillow at him as I sat up. “That’s my girl,” he said with way too much cheer. No one should be this happy about sitting around a fire station just waiting for the next run, especially at what was the tail end of his shift. He’d be off in- I checked my watch as I rubbed sleep from my eyes- four more hours. I still had more than twelve to go.
“Alright, what’s the big deal that couldn’t wait until after my beauty rest?”
Wallace pointed to the flyer that was in my lap. I picked it up and had to smooth it out to get a good read on it. He must have plucked the thing off a telephone pole and shoved it into a pocket at some point. Flyers like this litter the entire neighborhood around our fire station. Broad Ripple is pretty much the partier’s destination in Indianapolis. It’s a hip little nook in the inner northeastern quadrant of the city that boasts a higher density of bars than any other sector, even downtown. Basically, if it would appeal to college students, twenty-somethings, or aging hipsters, Broad Ripple Village has it.
This flyer was for an upcoming event at a dance club just a few blocks from our station. A holiday party. I groaned.
“A Halloween party? This is what you woke me up for?” I let the flyer fall to the floor and turned to roll back over.
“Come on, Jac, it’s not just a Halloween party, it’s a costume party.”
“Oh hell no,” I said, growling as I realized that my pillow was now sandwiched between Wallace’s ass and the desk chair of the bunkroom I shared with another paramedic. “Give me my pillow and I’ll consider not putting itching powder in your boots next time you head to the workout room.”
I held my hand out for the pillow and Wallace put the flyer in it. “It’ll be fun. How often do you get out to enjoy the Village nightlife?”
‘Working as an EMT in the Village, I’ve seen plenty of what the nightlife has to offer: alcohol poisoning, drug overdoses, contusions and lacerations from bar fights and that’s when they’re mild.” Stabbings and gunshots were rare, but they did happen. “Then there’s the date rapes fueled by too much alcohol, drunken pedestrians being hit by equally drunken drivers, and-”
“You sure know how to take the fun out of things,” Wallace grumbled.
Seeing the disappointed look on his face, I sighed. “Look, I’m just not into the party scene to start with and I don’t understand everyone’s infatuation with some stupid holiday that’s designed so that children can bilk candy out of adults. It’s cute when kids dress up, when adults do it it’s just sad.”
“So, no sexy nurse costumes for you?”
I rolled my eyes. “Sorry, hate to ruin that pretty little fantasy for you.”
“Good, the whole sexy costume thing is totally overblown anyway. I prefer traditional: witches, ghosts, vampires, and zombies.”
Aaaaaand that was exactly the sort of thing I really hated about Halloween- that a fun childhood holiday takes on a completely different meaning when you know those things are real. “Don’t forget werewolves,” I said under my breath.
Wallace perked up. “Yes! That’s a great idea! I know a guy from the Con circuit that can do amazing things with prosthetics and makeup. I could go as a werewolf and you could go as the bloodied victim! It would be easy to fake up some torn clothes and claw lacerations.”
“That sounds suspiciously like a couple’s costume, Walls.”
“Oh, well, you know I just thought it would be easier for you to do something like that. It’s not a real costume. You can still be yourself, we just put some makeup on you, and I’ll do the real work.”
He was looking down at the flyer in his hands and nervously folding the edges back and forth. “I just thought it would be good for you to get out and have some fun. You’ve been working here for three months and I don’t think you’ve mentioned once doing anything outside work.”
“I’ll think about it, okay? Come on, I need to log my workout for the day. Wanna be my treadmill buddy?”
Wallace and I took over two of the four treadmills in the workout room and he rattled on about the runs he had been on the previous night before I had arrived for my shift. Wallace was used to me being silent while I worked out and I was used to him talking my ear off. It worked well enough for both of us, especially since he was practically the only person in the station who would give me the time of day.
It didn’t hurt that he was cute, either. I entertained myself with images of shirtless Wallace wearing just his fireman’s pants and a helmet. Now that would be a costume that would get him some attention in the local clubs. He’d have the girls fawning all over him. That whole Uber-geek level cosplay he and his fantasy loving convention buddies embraced was not the way to make girls drool.
It was also one of the reasons I tolerated him. If Wallace knew he was attractive, he never flaunted it. He came from a long line of cops and firefighters and it showed. He was 6’2” in his bare feet, had broad shoulders and a narrow waist carved by the intensive workout regimen necessary for his job, and sincere hazel eyes that provided a soft counterpoint to the sharp military style buzz of his dark blonde hair.
“I missed the real doozy, though,” Wallace was saying. “Station 21 got called out last night to an animal mauling.”
“Mauling?” I squeaked. My stride faltered and when my next footfall landed it was half off the tread. Things did not improve from there.
I went down. My hands and knees connected with the still spinning tread which threw me off the back of the machine before Wallace could hit the emergency stop button.
I cursed then jumped up and out of sight of the workout room’s windows before anyone came to investigate the ruckus.
“Are you okay?” Wallace asked. He hit the stop button on his own treadmill, came over, and grabbed for my arms to take a look.
“Just some scrapes,” I said breathlessly as I pulled my arms away. I was more self-conscious of the old scars on my right arm than my new scrapes. “More embarrassed than anything else.”
Wallace checked my hands and knees and seemed satisfied that I didn’t have any broken skin. “Now I know why you hate using the treadmill. You’re a klutz,” he joked.
“Yeah, something like that.” If only he knew. At least that had just been operator error. The way my life went, it could have just as easily been a mechanical malfunction that caused the belt to snap. But, Murphy had been pretty quiet for weeks. Thank god.
“It’s a good thing you’re short or you might have hit your head on the console when you tumbled.”
“Gee, thanks for the reminder.” I slugged him in the arm and trying to aim for a nerve. I must’ve missed because Wallace just laughed. “Ok, now what’s this about a mauling?”
“Some guy was found in the parking lot behind Glendale Town Center looking like a wild animal tore into him. I’m surprised you didn’t see it in the news this morning. It was front page on the Star.”
I could hardly believe it. I had just been there yesterday afternoon doing some shopping. “Like clawed or eaten?” I asked. Oh god, please don’t let this be werewolves. Hadn’t V told me the ones in Indy didn’t attack humans?
Wallace didn’t get a chance to answer because the PA system was announcing a run, a major run. Both the engine and ambulance from our station were being summoned.
“Later,” Wallace mouthed to me as we took off in opposite directions to get dressed.
“We’ve got an MVA, five cars, multiple trauma victims,” Dalton crisply informed me as I fell in step with his brisk pace to our ambulance.
Drew Dalton, paramedic and my usual partner, drove to the scene of the accident filling me in on the details in a tone that was all business. He hated working with me, but he never said so. He was far too professional for that. Especially a veteran who had served terms in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
To him, I am an undisciplined, inexperienced, pain in his ass who he needs to constantly babysit. I’m sure much of it is my age, but just as much was the fact that I had only been with fire department for three months and was just an EMT, not a high and mighty paramedic.
He even grilled me on proper procedures for trauma during the three minute drive. Just like he had the last, oh, several hundred runs we’d been on.
Like I don’t know my job, Dalton.
I gave every one of his questions the proper response, even if I wasn’t able to keep my irritation out of my voice.
Fortunately, the accident wasn’t that far from the station.
Unfortunately, it was bad.
It was suspected that a traffic signal had malfunctioned at the corner of College Ave and Broad Ripple Avenue, the largest intersection in the Village. Four cars had collided and the area was swarming when we arrived: two ladders, three squad cars, and four ambulances.
As my typical luck would have it, Dalton and I were assigned to administer treatment to the accident’s PITA. (That’s EMS-speak for an uncooperative patient. I figured out what the acronym meant at about the same time I realized scene commanders always assigned these types of patients to Dalton and me.)
You would think someone with a broken nose, suspected head/neck injury, and shattered wrist would be compliant with those who want to help her. In Mrs. Harper’s case, she couldn’t be bothered to comply with a simple safety rule of wearing a seatbelt, let alone anything else. It seemed she was just obstreperous by nature.
I’d have taken dealing the major trauma cases over Mrs. Harper any day. At least that victim was unconscious.
Mrs. Harper was not at all happy about me holding her neck to immobilize her C-spine. She was even less happy about Dalton trying to put nasal tampons in her nostrils to contain the bleeding from her broken nose. She was absolutely hysterical, ranting on and on about fairies sabotaging traffic lights and that they were nearby and just waiting to kill off the accident survivors. She was certain no one could protect her from their malice, not us, not the cops, and certainly not the hospital we were going to transport her to.
Her histrionics were trying even Dalton’s legendary cool, especially since he was the one primarily dealing with her while I was just trying to hold her neck in alignment. Not that it was fun to be perched in what was left of the backseat of her car trying to hold the squirming woman’s head against the passenger seat headrest; nor was it especially safe. The car was tilting to the right from the damage that had been done to it. I really hoped that the firefighter Dalton had sent for equipment got back soon. The sooner we had Mrs. Harper attached to an extraction device so we could safely remove her from the vehicle, the better.
“I understand you’re upset, Mrs. Harper. You have a right to be, but you must let us treat your injuries,” Dalton was saying.
“I’m not upset! I’m beyond distraught here! Did you see them? They’re still here, I know it!” she insisted.
“No one is going to hurt you, Mrs. Harper,” he repeated for the umpteenth time. Normally saying someone’s name repeatedly reassures them. Mrs. Harper just seemed to become more and more incensed by it.
“You don’t believe me,” she accused in a shrill voice. “I saw them! Just like Tinkerbell but with glowing eyes and fangs!”
“Uh huh,” Dalton muttered as he continued to work his assessment, checking her pulse, respiration, and pupil dilation. The tone of his utterance made it clear that he didn’t believe her. I really wished I didn’t.
“Mrs. Harper, if you don’t sit still you are going to injure yourself further.”
“Get her hands off my head! I can’t see! I can’t see if they’re still out there!”
“There’s no one here but the people involved in the accident and other emergency services personnel, just like us,” I said in my most soothing voice possible, and hoped it was true.
The Fae aren’t supposed to be here. Not that some don’t slip through on occasion, but they are usually dealt with pretty quickly. And permanently. Usually by the same type of person who permanently handles problems such as me.
The presence of Fae in Indianapolis was not only bad for any unsuspecting humans who happened to cross their paths, but also really bad for me. If the Justicars came to Indy to investigate Fae sightings, I didn’t want to end up on their radar, too. I had stayed in Indianapolis specifically because there was not much of a Human Kind presence here.
Human Kind. I had no idea who had coined the collective term for sorcerers, werewolves, and vampires. It was a term my roommate had introduced to me and I thought it was kind of ridiculous. It made me happy I had my own subclass as a Jinx, even if it meant hiding out in Indy under an assumed name and hoping no one noticed me. So, it was probably just as well that my roomie was the only other Kind I’d happened across in Indy during the six months I’d been here.
I’m not saying Indy doesn’t have other creatures that go bump in the night, just not as many as most large cities do. We tend to stick to places like New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, LA, and even Seattle where the Norms wouldn’t bat an eye at the weird and inexplicable.
Fae were another story. As far as I knew, they weren’t considered Human Kind and they weren’t supposed to be on this side of the Veil.
The first ambulance was already leaving the scene with the vic from the rolled SUV ensconced inside and another was about prepped to head out with a second vic. Since all I had to do for the moment was hold a head immobile, I could take it all in. At least what I could see out the open car door and cracked windshield.
“Wha… why does my arm hurt?” Mrs. Harper was asking in a shaking voice.
“Probably a fracture,” Dalton calmly explained. “It’s not uncommon in accidents. Many people brace themselves on the car dash when they see an accident coming.”
He refrained from adding that it was a stupid thing to do, although I could see that he wanted to. Asshole. It’s not like most people have accidents every day and know that bracing yourself is just likely to cause worse injury.
Doing nothing but crouching and holding Mrs. Harper’s head was making me cranky. My back hurt from being hunched over, my legs were cramping, and my shoulders ached from this position already. I needed to distract myself.
I was dying to know if Mrs. Harper could possibly have seen what she claimed to have seen: fairies. So, I took a deep breath and, for lack of a better explanation, shifted my vision to the side, into that space that allows me to see the energy of others, the waves of color that surround every living thing. I assume I’m seeing auras, even though I realize that sounds hokey and New Agey. I’ve never had anyone that I could ask what I was actually seeing and aura is as good as a term as anything else.
When I was a kid, I did it unconsciously and all the time. I learned quickly that my adoptive parents couldn’t see what their troubled child did and that it freaked them out when I talked about how Mrs. Patterson from down the block glowed purple. So, I stopped talking about it and eventually learned how to turn my “aura vision” off. Now I can only do it if I concentrate.
Everyone glows some color, and I don’t know what all of them mean. I do know that the bigger the glow, the more powerful the person is. Perfectly normal humans have auras that cling to their bodies like a second skin. Human Kind have auras that emanate out from their bodies, several inches to several feet. I always thought Mrs. Patterson looked like she was walking around in a giant purple hamster ball. It was really freaky to a child. It was the largest aura I had ever seen, at least until my run-in with the Justicar who had kidnapped me after the incident at UMass. If Mrs. Patterson’s aura was freaky, his was intimidating. No, terrifying. He positively radiated power and menace…
Stop it! Stop thinking about it!
I focused back on Mrs. Harper. Her aura was blue with streaks of yellow and sickly green. Strangely colored, but thin and clingy. I breathed a sigh of relief. Perfectly normal human. She could not have seen through Fae glamour. She was just hysterical and her wild assertions were nothing but the product of a brain addled by slamming into an air bag with enough force to cause a concussion. Conclusion: no Fae poking about. That was a good thing. Unless… nah, there was no need to get paranoid yet.
“Ok, Mrs. Harper, we’re going to need to move you from the car now,” Dalton said interrupting my thoughts. “We’re going to attach a device to you that will support and protect your neck so we can safely transport you to the hospital. Okay?”
Wallace had returned with Knopf who was carrying the extraction device. Dalton was issuing them orders on how to prepare the device for Mrs. Harper when Mrs. Harper screamed and began thrashing wildly. Something thudded into the vehicle. People were yelling and scrambling and I was only vaguely aware of it as the vehicle listed abruptly to the side. I lost my footing and had just enough time to think Oh shit! before I went toppling into the mangled metal mass to my left.
My next thought was: Great, now my left arm will match my right.
The pain as my bare arm met jagged metal was nothing compared to the embarrassment at becoming a victim on the accident scene. Rule number one of emergency medical personnel: never put yourself at risk, never compromise your safety because the last thing any emergency needs is more victims to deal with.
When the car stopped rocking, Wallace scrambled to help me while Knopf held Mrs. Harper down so Dalton could administer a sedative to the newly hysterical woman.
“You see! You see!” she was screaming in a voice that nearly shattered my eardrums in the tight confines of the car. “Monsters! I told you!”
“Hold her!” Dalton ordered. “Syringe is almost ready.”
I shut out the loud voices and lay still, trying to assess my situation as calmly as possible.
“Montgomery, just stay put,” Wallace said to me. “Let me look before you try to move.”
I knew he saw the blood, I could feel it streaming down my arm. I just couldn’t tell from the pain wracking my arm if any metal was still impaled in my skin. I was almost afraid to look. Not much turns my stomach, but impaled objects get me every time.
“I’m cool, Walls. Just let me know what you need me to do,” I managed to get out through clenched teeth.
“You saw it, didn’t you?” Mrs. Harper was demanding of Dalton. “A wild cougar! Right here in the Village!” At least that was how I interpreted her words which were already slurring under the effects of the sedative.
Wallace was shouting something about my injuries at Dalton over his shoulder, while Dalton was presumably trying to maintain his cool in front of his patient after losing his partner to an injury and having to replace me with Knopf.
“Yay, I do so love a good avulsion,” I muttered.
Wallace turned back to me and gave me a weak grin, “Let’s get you out of the car and you can walk me through treating you.”
I giggled in spite of myself since Wallace was an EMT just like me. Most IFD firefighters were trained as both. Unfortunately, the giggle was a mistake because it only made my injuries press into the metal I was still leaning against.
“Shit,” I groaned. “Help me up before I make this worse.”
Wallace helped pull me from the car by supporting me under my uninjured arm and ushered me over to the sidewalk, pressing gauze pads into my injuries even as we walked.
“You’ve got the worst luck of anyone I know,” he said as he helped me take a seat on the curb.
The worst luck of anyone, period.
“What happened?” I asked him as he knelt next to me, batting away my free hand. “Hey, I can still apply pressure to my own wound, Walls.”
He caved and pressed my hand to a pad on my upper arm. “Just stop moving and let me take a better look.”
“It’s just the arm,” I growled as he prodded at my side and inspected legs.
“If you don’t chill… well, I’m sure Dalton’s got more of that Haldol he used on the crazy lady,” Wallace said under his breath.
I frowned at him and let him do his job. I was just being pissy. I hated being the victim. I hated that now I was a liability on the job, and I hated that Dalton was going to be pissed because his partner was taken out of the action. Sure, he’d probably prefer working with Knopf over me, but it was the principle of the thing.
“You might need some stitches,” Wallace said, affixing the gauze pads on my forearms with a roll of even more gauze.
I grunted affirmation. I had gotten a brief look at my shredded arm before he slapped the absorbent cotton on it. Some stitches might be an understatement. I could feel the blood loss going to my head. I wasn’t in danger of shock, but it was still unpleasant.
Right then someone exclaimed, “It was a huge fucking cat!”
I whipped my head around to hunt for the owner of that voice. It was male, so someone had seen something unusual other than Mrs. Harper.
“Sit still for fuck’s sake.” Wallace’s admonition was quiet enough so only I could hear.
I ignored him, but tried to look around without moving anything below my neck. I hadn’t noticed before because I had been so focused on my own injury, but the accident scene was in pandemonium. We should have been wrapping up, but I noticed a pair of firefighters working on another victim maybe twenty feet down from where I sat. I couldn’t get a good look past Wallace’s broad shoulders, but there was definitely blood and I could tell from the tense set of their jaws that the injuries were serious.
What the hell?
“A cat?” a dubious voice asked.
“Yes, a fucking cat, man. You know, a cougar, bobcat, or mountain lion. Something big and man eating. You know, right?”
I finally spotted the pair of voices. An officer from the Indianapolis Metro Police Department as standing in front of a guy about my age, early twenties, who could have been Shaggy’s body double. Zoinks! and all.
The cop exchanged glances with his partner. They both looked to the severely wounded man whose aura read to me as more dead than alive, then returned their dubious gazes to Shaggy.
“I don’t think we have any mountain lions anywhere in Indianapolis, especially not here in the Village,” the second officer said calmly.
“Man, I know what I saw,” Shaggy drawled.
The first cop gave a sort of nod to his partner before turning back to Shaggy and asking him to explain it again.
Cop Number Two went looking for someone else to question and at this point there seemed to be no shortage of options. A crowd of gawkers had gathered at all corners around the intersection. Broad Ripple isn’t especially busy on a Tuesday mid-afternoon, but there is enough through traffic and local businesses that people had come out to see what all the noise was about. Those who weren’t talking about the accident were heatedly arguing over whether or not they had seen a “something big and man-eating” jump onto the hood of the wrecked Nissan, practically disembowel a bystander, and dart off into the alley behind the building adjacent to the accident.
A twitchy flutter passed through my body, lighting up my nerve endings and bringing my attention back to the man on the ground with massive abdominal lacerations. The paramedics were starting CPR and planning for immediate evac even though he wasn’t stabilized. I could have told them it wouldn’t do any good. Shifting my vision, I saw that the man’s aura was gone.
He was already dead.
I hadn’t realized I’d said it aloud until Wallace glanced up from wrapping my arm and looked at me funny.
I quickly nodded my head towards the group behind him. After a moment he turned back with a sigh. “Keep a lid on it, Jac,” he said quietly.
“Sorry,” I muttered.
The dead man was on a stretcher and en route to St. Vincent’s in moments and several more sirens were approaching. Wallace had patched me up as best he could and rushed off to help the cops maintain control of the scene which was quickly becoming a circus.
Not that I was surprised given what I could overhear. The dead guy wasn’t even directly involved in the accident. He had merely stopped to help after seeing it happen. Then while he was standing around waiting to give his statement to the police, well… no one but Shaggy seemed remotely certain what they had seen.
“I felt wind brush past us and the next thing I know that man was on the ground, bleeding,” a blonde woman was saying.
“The cat clawed him, that’s what happened,” Shaggy clarified for her, earning him a disgusted glare from both Blondie and the cops. I gave it pretty good odds they would have preferred to drag him down to the station and make him submit to drug testing. As it was, they might have threatened him with lying to a police officer if Mrs. Harper hadn’t continued slurring on about giant cat monsters as she was loaded into an ambulance.
Every time a cat was mentioned, most people scoffed openly. But there were enough faces in the crowd that looked uncertain or had even weakly nodded that I had to wonder…
I shifted my vision and took another look at Shaggy.
Purple aura, two inches thick = Human Kind. A fizzle maybe, but still not a perfectly normal human.
I leaned against a sign post on my happy little curb space and was suddenly glad my injuries had relieved me of all duty on this scene. I had plenty of time to scan the entire crowd. There might have been a couple others in the group who were just on the borderline of being considered Kind but, other than that, Shaggy and I were the only ones who should have been able to see any paranormal activities.
I frowned. That didn’t make sense. Even though no one else seemed to be ready to clearly admit out loud that they saw a giant man-eating cat, people were plenty nervous. The demand to get Animal Care and Control out here to hunt down any potentially rabid beasts was beginning to spread through the crowd. The police wanted a more plausible explanation. That Man-eating cats are in Africa, not Indiana, right?
I scanned the crowd again, looking for any signs of magic and pointedly avoiding looking in Shaggy’s direction.
There! On the rooftop across the street, I spotted a small golden glow.
The moment my eyes landed on it, it bobbed up and down. I watched as it began to grow… no! It was coming towards me, swooping down like a… hell if I know! Swooping is bad!
With no other options, I slammed my eyes shut and braced for impact.
“Icantstopit! ItriedItried! Youmustbelieveme! Youmusthelpme!”
The torrent of words came out in a light speed rush so shrill Justin Bieber’s singing would be pleasant by comparison.
I edged an eye open.
Well, what do ya know? Mrs. Harper really had seen a fanged fairy with glowing eyes.
The three-inch tall golden creature hovered just inches from my face and, in spite of her maw of sharp pointy teeth, managed to look anxious and miserable.
She was repeating the same four phrases over and over. I glanced around quickly to see if anyone else saw what I was seeing. Fortunately, Shaggy was too busy arguing with the cops over whether or not he was in his right mind.
“Shhh!” I hissed at her, trying to motion her to be silent without being obvious about it. The last thing I needed was people thinking I was talking to invisible friends.
The fairy ducked her head and hovered closer to me and repeated, “Youmusthelpme,” in a softer voice.
“Help you?” I asked softly, taking another quick glance around. “What are you even doing here?”
The fairy seemed taken aback by that question. “Stop the changeling.”
Well, that would explain the cat.
“What am I supposed to do about it?” I asked.
She gave me another lopsided look, which made her curtain of cornsilk hair drift in a wave to the side. It was almost as long as she was tall. How did it not get caught in the flutter of her dragonfly wings?
This time my eyes went wide. Before I could ask her anything further, a horrible growling sound reached our ears. The fairy bobbed as if struck, her eyes now as wide as mine. She was gone before I could ask another question.
Ok, Jac, just breathe. Everything’s cool.
But it wasn’t and I tried to calm myself against the panic rising inside me. I had just seen a freaking fairy and she was claiming another Fae with teeth and claws had killed that bystander. Worse, Shaggy had seen it. Even worse, Mrs. Harper had seen it and that was decidedly my fault.
I had been touching Mrs. Harper and must have interfered with the fairies’ glamours so she had seen them. Oh crap. Mrs. Harper had been raving about strange things even before. Was my mere presence interfering with the glamours for anyone nearby, even Norms?
I had no idea if that was even possible, but it would be par for the course for my life. Murphy, the bane of my existence, screws up everything. I quickly glanced around to see if anyone else had seen or heard the fairy. I had to guess not since there didn’t seem to be…
“Hahaa!” I jumped again and found Shaggy charging toward my stoop.
“You saw her didn’t you? She was talking to you!”
I gave him my best What-are-you-talking-about? look as he stopped just inches from me and leaned down into my face.
“Did you see the cougar, too?” he asked, seeming relieved to have found someone to back him up.
“Honey, there’s lots of cougars in Indy, but most of those ladies hang out in ritzier areas like Carmel, not the Village,” I said sweetly.
The cop coming up from behind to corral Shaggy couldn’t help his snicker.
“Come on, Mr. Aldon. Let’s leave the nice EMT alone, shall we?”
“Nah, man, nah!” Shaggy said, shaking both his mop of mousy brown hair and the grip the cop had on his arm. Not that either one did him any good. “She’s knows I’m telling the truth. Ask her! She just saw that golden fairy-thing, too!”
“A fairy?” the officer said, going still and glancing towards me.
I shrugged and circled my temple with a finger while Shaggy’s back was turned.
“What else would you call an itty-bitty little glowy chick with wings?” Shaggy asked in annoyance.
Apparently that was the cop’s last straw.
“Mr. Aldon, you’re under arrest for disorderly conduct and interfering with a police investigation,” the cop said, giving Shaggy’s arm an abrupt pull to get him away from me.
Things only got worse for Shaggy from there. He quickly added resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer to his growing list of charges and was soon eating pavement while three officers restrained him so a fourth could cuff him.
Shaggy got a bit roughed up because he continued to pull against the cops once they had him back on his feet. He was absolutely livid that no one would believe him. He had a special hatred for me at that moment because he knew I was lying. He yelled over and over again for me to “tell the cops the fucking truth!”
I sat woodenly on my curb, trying to ignore him. I wouldn’t feel bad about it. I just wouldn’t. Shaggy had broken what might as well be the Prime Directive of Human Kind:
Never let the Norms know that anything less than normal is going on.
Just before he was shoved into the back of a squad car, Shaggy gave me one last look that was pure venom and shouted, “This isn’t over, nurse chick!”
“I’m an EMT!” I shot back, annoyed as much at his ignorance over my job title as him drawing attention to me. I had bigger things to worry about, though. Indianapolis had Fae on the loose, including a changeling that had eviscerated a human in broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses.
No, Shaggy, this was far from over.