Written and Illustrated by Christopher Harvill
I am asked what I am. There is a simple child’s game called Telephone. Whisper something to your neighbor. Pass it on around a circle. Watch what was said now changed at the end. Stretch the game over millennia, and you have legends. Folklore. Myths. Fairy Tales.
I am that. I whispered at the Beginning. I will be listening at The End.
My door opens on an alleyway in Los Angeles, March 15th, 2020. I am already too late.
A man walks casually down the alleyway with Eve slumped over his broad shoulders. He wears a tailored suit and black shoes so polished they seem made of obsidian. The smells here are wrong. Instead of trash and stagnant puddle water, there comes a breath of sulfur. A wisp of… brimstone?
“Put her down,” I demand.
He continues walking as though he hadn’t a care in the world. Carrying a briefcase after work instead of a woman whose very existence predicated I not let this man get away. And is he whistling?
I prepare one of the sigils that move within me to prevent him from going further. I had sensed Eve’s dark unconsciousness when it happened, thus the door opening here. But something was wrong. Something was powerfully wrong that I had not anticipated.
I open my mouth to speak again when he stops. The streetlamp above the man sizzles then flicks black.
“I heard you the first time, little paladin. Did you feel the crack in the dam?”
He begins to turn his head ever so slightly back towards me, and his eyes tell me all I need to know. Back foot braced, I lift my right hand in protection, my left already aglow with the Norse symbol of strength.
The world explodes before me in a wind so cataclysmic that the ground beneath me cracks. A gale so intense and all-encompassing the air around me freezes.
Perhaps it’s the engine sound that saves me from another final assault. More likely, The Elder simply wished to make a statement, for its parting gift is so deep that birds for miles around take flight and dogs moan across the city in a pitiful song of fear.
Then it is gone. I lie there on my knees as Rowdy hockey stops his 1941 Indian motorcycle at the mouth of the alley, its headlamp washing over me. He is my scout. I knew he would find me. His kind are good at it.
“Avery!” He runs to my side and helps me to my feet. “What the hell was that awful noise?”
I take a deep breath. “Laughter. It was laughing at me. Knew I was coming.” I adjust my Windsor glasses. Leveling my gaze, I rest a hand on his shoulder. “Get Jo and Feller. Comb the city for Eve. It will whisper in her ear, and Knowledge will seep, then spill. We have to wake her before it’s too late.”
“Too late for what?” He asked.
Los Angeles. L.A. was about to explode.