Decided to try something new, posting the first three parts I've written for it now, if I write more I will post them then.
-Claire's Tale (working title)-
Claire rode the train after riding the bus after walking a mile from her office before getting on another bus before walking another mile to her small apartment in south San Jose. She did this five days each week, and while most would complain she did not. This was her life. Each night when she got home she’d unlock her door and open it to get hit in the shins by her cat which thought itself a cannonball. The relatively small critter was more fur than fat and acted as though she never paid it any mind at all. Claire would pick up the cat in her arms, scrub behind its ears, walk back down the steps to her mail box to get the mail and then return to the apartment with the mail under one arm and the cat held in the other. Claire would go through the mail while she cooked her dinner, fed the cat, and then sat down to eat. She’d wash the dishes and put them away, at which point she would pick up the book she was going to read and sit down on the large sofa in her living room.
Claire owned a television, but aside from watching movies she never turned it on. Her living room had every wall covered with book shelves which made the already-small living space even smaller. Every shelf was full, and organized alphabetically and by genre. Some of the shelves had begun to accrue stacks of books which had no space left on the shelf to call home. Her bedroom was much like her living room, but instead of a large comfy couch she had a queen size bed layered down with quilts made by hand and a large chest of drawers which held her clothing. Claire took great joy in books, and would often read them instead of going out with friends or watching a movie, or doing much of anything else which could have interested many other people. Her favorite books were historical fictions, books which questioned if what society accepted as truths had instead happened in a different way. She’d often thought of writing a book, but like so many people who could relate to her she had never really pushed herself to do so.
Claire was beautiful, not in a magazine or pop-culture way, but truly beautiful. She had a large curvy frame despite being remarkably short at just over five feet tall. Her hair hung bone strait and though she would have loved for it to gain some volume it was more work than she cared to take to do so. She didn’t wear much make-up, though she’d often have some fun with painting her nails, and her style of clothing could be defined less as fashionable than it could be called practical. Comfortable boots, jeans, a v-necked t-shirt, and an assortment of sweaters, jackets, and hoodies were her everyday style, and not everyone would stop on the street to admire her. But she was beautiful. Her spirit, energy, and confidence was an almost physical thing, writhing around her and drawing anyone open to true beauty in so they could understand that this is not what movies would call beauty; it is what artists would spend months trying capture in marble and if they even drew close they’d call it a masterpiece. The only person who was truly oblivious to Claire’s beauty was Claire, but she was happy with her life the way it was, happy with herself for who she was, and what truly made her beautiful is that she was comfortable in her own body.
In the morning Claire would ride the train after riding the bus after walking a mile before riding another bus before walking another mile to her job in San Francisco. But that would be the last time before everything in her life changed.
As the train rolled down the tracks Claire slowly made her way through her book. It was a slow-moving ordeal which’d been given to her by a friend who said it changed their lives and all she could really see it doing was taking time a better book could have filled. The train bounced as it came to a stop at one of the many stations between South San Francisco and San Jose Diridon station, Claire looked up to see the elderly woman who’d been sitting two rows in front of her get off the train and a large man get on.
Large didn’t really define him as it failed to grasp the magnitude of his size. It wasn’t that he was particularly tall, maybe a few inches over six feet, or round with his stomach showing a comfortable roundness which suggested an active lifestyle coupled with a love for food no matter how unhealthy, but his width. If he’d sat down his shoulders wouldn’t have been able to even try to make a person next to him comfortable, and it’d probably take a good five feet of rope to wrap his barrel-chest just once. As he moved through the train car it was as though each light dimmed slightly before him, as though the magnitude of him absorbed the light around him. He sat down across the aisle and one row in front of her, casually relaxing across both of the seats to discourage anyone from sitting next to him.
He ran a hand through his hair and leaned his head back on the seat, closing his eyes and moments after the train started moving again Claire could hear the steady deep breaths of sleep.
Ten, maybe twenty minutes passed before the screeching of the trains brakes pierced Claire’s ears and the train jarred, bouncing Claire and her book off the back of the seat in front of her. Claire stumbled up off the floor of the train and looked up, but the large man had completely vanished. Had he gotten off the train without her noticing? Surely he couldn’t have gotten up without her being aware of it.
The lights flickered as she looked up and down the train car. Claire began to make her way toward the doors to get off the train, but she’d scarcely taken three steps when the sound of tearing metal screeched above her and she looked up to see four hands tearing a hole in the roof of the train car. Two pairs of black eyes looked back at her.
Claire opened her mouth to scream.
They climbed down through the hole like spiders, gripping the the metal frame with long black claws. Their skin was black and rubbery looking, with sinuous muscles woven over lean frames. Their mouths were full of sharp fangs and their eyes pieced like something strait out of a horror movie. Claire’s scream caught in her throat as they examined her. One spoke, “So plump, not the one we’re looking for though.”
The other rasped back, “However she’ll make a fine snack brother.”
“Mm, very well brother, one cannot be too picky.”
Claire’d begun to back away from them when the first one pounced, leaping through the air and righting itself as it pushed from the ceiling of the train car at her. She covered her face with her arms and felt a movement of air but nothing touched her.
She opened her eyes as she heard a loud crunch and a quieter squish as the things head was driven into the floor of the car denting it. Holding the base of it’s neck was the large man who’d climbed onto the train earlier, but he was much larger now than he had been before.
His arms were mottled and gray, long enough to almost reach his knees and ended in oversized hands with yellowed finger-nails. His hair hung over his face but tusks came up from his lower jaw in an impressive under-bite. He couldn’t have stood at his full height inside the car if he’d wanted too, and his shoulders were broad enough to easily sit upon for even a lady of her size.
The other black creature scrambled out of the hole in the roof and gave a sharp whistle, in less than a second the car began to shake. This behemoth of a man stepped forward and scooped her up in one arm, “Sorry ma’am, but you’ll be wanting to come with me.”
Claire made a sound somewhere between a gasp and a choked scream as the loped on his other arm and legs down the path and dove from the train car, running out into the industrial area surrounding the tracks. Able to see behind her far better than where ever he was running Claire could see as nearly a dozen of the creatures ran behind them. Some ran on two legs, others moved like apes or monkeys on four limbs jumping and swinging from anything in their path. She struggled to gain a breath as his pace had her bouncing upon her stomach, unable to say anything, unable to warn him that they were moving faster than he was.
He came to a sudden stop and she could hear his feet slide along the gravel of the yard they were in as he spun and lobbed her ass-over-tea-kettle onto a pile of sand. She briefly saw that from his other hand he flung a bag of quick-crete like a fast-pitch softball and knocked one of the creatures out of the air.
She came to her sense and the creatures had surrounded him. They’d rush in to swipe at him, or leap for his back, but he moved in quick, heavy, practiced sweeping motions which kept most of them away.
As he pounded one into the ground and the sound of its ribcage collapsing filled the night another lept onto his back and sunk its teeth into his shoulder; he bellowed in pain, reached back behind himself to grab the creature, not reaching high to grab the head, but low and back to snatch the ankle, and tore the creature off of himself and at another. With the few still able to move it struggled to its feet and vanished into thin air.
Claire stared in confusion, terror, and awe and he caught his breath and she saw the large hunk in his should fill back in, healing in seconds. He turned to face her and grunted, “Fat lot of good you are in a fight ma’am. We should go.”
“We? Why we?” Claire stammered. “I don’t even know who you are!” 'Or what he is' directly followed though she couldn’t bring herself to ask.
“Call me Marco. Those leeches have your scent as well as mine. You can go your own way and they’ll feed on you tonight or you can come with me and maybe we’ll survive to sunrise. Your choice, but make it now.” He seemed to shimmer as he stretched and rolled his shoulders, shrinking back down to his merely-large bulk from before.
“That hardly seems like a fair offer of you Marco.” Claire didn’t like being ordered around by anyone, especially men who man-handle her before introducing themselves.
“Tell you what, if you can name a place where everything is fair and bad things only happen to bad people I’ll drop you off there and you can get back to gum drops and unicorns. We have a long walk and we need them to lose our trail. You coming or not?”
“Fine, but only if you’ll answer my questions.” Claire place her hands firmly on her hips.
He rolled the freshly healed shoulder as though it was still tight or sore, “Alright, I promise to answer every question you ask honestly so long as you don’t call any of my answers bullshit.”