I was having a rather had time finding anything to share from Inside the Grey House. Any word that popped up in my random word generator either didn’t have any matches, or had something I know I’ve shared recently, or had too many matches. Therefore, out of frustration, I am sharing a short story I wrote some time ago.
Scarlett sat on the edge of the pit, watching the remains of the demons burn. She didn’t know why that happened, but it did. And it only happened when a lot were killed at once. If she killed one demon, it did not burst into flames. Kill more than four in one area, and the bodies burned. And the pile had to be watched. Sometimes they rose from the ashes. Rejuvenation spell, Floyd told her once. Scarlett took a swig from her flask and handed it to Lincoln. He took it, smelled it and shook his head.
“This do anything for you?”
“No, but I like the taste.” She watched him glare at her for a moment, then eyed the flask. “Are you going to have any or what?”
He grunted, took a swig and handed it back. She smirked and drank some more. It was impossible for manmade items to kill them. The spell that brought them close to immortality also made it impossible to get drunk, stoned or in any way inebriated. For a period of time, she tried almost all drugs known to man, and some they didn’t know about. Being able to go to other worlds and dimensions had its advantages. It wasn’t only human made items and potions either. Nothing could kill them. They needed to live as long as they could. There weren’t many of them around any more.
They passed the flask back and forth in silence for a while watching the pit. It was a fairly large pit, about ten feet deep and twenty feet across. Killing large amounts of demons created craters, but Scarlett wasn’t sure why. A lot of things had never been explained to her. The ability to kill demons had been passed to her at a young age. The ability came with very little training.
Lincoln got up when they noticed movement towards the center of the pit. He stood, and his lanky form became even lankier as he grabbed his long sword. He walked nonchalantly toward the movement, watching that area the entire time. Scarlett watched the rest of the pit, to make sure no one would be able to blindside Lincoln. As the resurrected demon rose up, growling and snarling, Lincoln reached him and hacked him to bits. His motion was slow and easy. He had been at this longer than Scarlett. She wasn’t sure how long. He knew what to do to make the kill quick.
Once the demon was dead again, he turned and headed back to her. He set his sword down then sat down and took the flask when Scarlett handed it to him. They were silent for a moment longer then she capped the flask and put it away.
“Thanks.” Her voice was quiet.
He turned to her. “For what?”
“Answering my call. I wasn’t sure you would.”
He shrugged. “It was nothing.”
“Don’t. I know you’re mad at me. I know you could have ignored it, but you didn’t. You came anyway. Thank you. It means a lot.”
He shrugged. “Not mad enough at you to allow you to die.”
She took a deep breath. “Why are you mad at me?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Scarlett glared at him. “How are we supposed to clear the air if you don’t want to talk about it?”
He turned to look at her, his usually kind brown eyes were nearly glowing with anger. His mouth was set in a thin line. “Fine, but you know why I’m mad at you.”
She looked at him in shock. “No, I don’t.”
“Bull. I sent you a letter a few years back, detailing everything.”
Her eyes widened. “A letter?”
“Yeah, a letter. Best way to send something of a delicate matter.”
“Lincoln…” She sighed in annoyance, and tried to stay calm. “When did you send the letter?”
“Four years ago.”
“Four!” She yelled. Her voice echoed in the silence of the valley. She took a moment and calmed down. Lincoln let her. “Where did you send it?”
“To your mom’s place.”
It wasn’t her actual mom, but when she, or anyone like her, left their home world for extended periods of time, they designated someone their ‘mom’ who would keep their things and collect any messages.
She hung her head. “Fuck. Lincoln. Seven years ago, I went away. Remember that?”
“Yeah, off world for a while, to help other places.”
Demons existed in all dimensions, but did not look the same on all worlds. Demon was a loose term to describe any creature that wanted to destroy other living creatures, mostly for their own pleasure.
“I left all my stuff with my mom, sure. I was away longer than I thought I would be. When I came back, I had too much to do. I didn’t get a chance to get back to her right away. There was a fire at her place about three and a half years ago. Any messages sent there by paper were lost in the fire.”
He looked at her as if he didn’t believe her, but after a moment, his features softened. “Shit.”
“What did you say in the letter?”
He looked down at the ground in front of him. The wind that tousled his short brown hair brought the scent of cooking demon flesh. He looked to her again. “I didn’t… Did she survive?”
“She was a sleep when the fire started, but the firemen were able to get her out. She had a lot of smoke inhalation. She died three weeks later.”
She pulled out the flask and they each took a swig before she started again.
“So why are you mad at me?”
Lincoln gave a heavy sigh. “It’s nothing. The letter didn’t say why I was mad at you, I was mad at you because you didn’t respond to the letter. Now I know why, it’s ok. I’m not mad.”
She frowned at him as she brushed some stray hair out of her face. As the wind picked up, and blew more of her fire red hair in her face, she grumbled and redid her hair. It was hard to keep her long wavy hair controlled when she was fighting. She usually tied it in a bun, but it was coming free. Once it was in a ponytail, she turned back to Lincoln, who was looking at her with a slight smile.
“So are you going to tell me what was in the letter?”
He shook his head. “No, but now you can count on me any time you need. You call, I’ll come running.”
“Lincoln, will you please tell me what’s on your mind? I feel like there’s some tension between us and I don’t know why. We’ve known each other too long for this.”
He signed. “How long?”
“How long? Have we known each other?”
“Yeah. How long?”
Her eyes opened a little wider. “I’ve lost track.”
“I haven’t.” He said softly. “We met when you were a teenager and I looked about thirty. If you count in human years, I’m technically about 160. You’re about 145. We’ve known each other about 130 years.”
She looked at him in silence for a moment then nodded. “That’s a lot of years.”
“It is.” He watched as a strand of hair escaped her ponytail. He reached out and gently brushed the strand behind her ear. Scarlett drew back in surprise, a new idea in her mind.
“What did the letter say, Lincoln?”
He looked at her as he realized his small gesture might have been too revealing. Lincoln looked to the pit, almost hoping for movement. There was nothing to save him. He looked to Scarlett. “I told you what I felt about you.”
Her eyes opened wide again. “It was a love letter?”
A slight blush appeared on his tanned skin. She could see the beginning of the smile on his full lips. “Yes.”
She understood why he sent a letter instead of calling or sending some form of electronic message. It was never a good idea for their kind to be public about their feelings for each other. It could be used against them by demons. Demons were more likely to use one hunter against the other as leverage to escape or further their kills. Hiding feelings was recommended.
“I didn’t know you felt that way.”
“I know. I was always good at hiding feelings from everyone. Even myself. When I realized what I felt for you, it was a surprise.”
She nodded and stared at the pit for a moment. “What happens now?”
“You figure out how you feel about me. If you reciprocate, we can change our relationship. If you don’t, we continue being colleagues.”
“I thought we couldn’t.”
“We would have to be careful, but whatever you decide, I was planning on changing my role anyway.”
She gave him a look. “What do you mean?”
“The last time I was in a huge fight like this, one of them took a chunk out of my leg. It healed, but it healed funny. I don’t have the same strength as I used to. I’ve talk to the others. I can keep my abilities and train others. We’ve always tried to get more trainers, but it gets impossible.”
She was silent again and felt as if she had been silent for most of this conversation. Scarlett looked to the pit again and saw that the fires were dying down. “I don’t know how I feel about you. I’m almost mad that you’re going to be training people, though. In the beginning, I had no one. I figured out a lot of it on my own.”
“As did most of us and what does that do? Kills us off quicker.” He smiled at Scarlett. “Take your time with thoughts about you and me. I can wait.”
She smiled back. She liked his smile. Always had. It was caring and lovely. Scarlett looked away and sighed. “What do we do now?”
“We do what we always do. Wait for the fires to die out and then go grab a bite to eat.”
She laughed. “Is it really that simple?”
“It can be. We have a lifetime, Scarlett. Many lifetimes. I can wait.”
Scarlett smiled again. “Ok.”
He leaned in and gave her a soft lingering peck on the cheek. “Ok.”
His voice was soft and warm against her ear. When he pulled away, he almost didn’t stop looking into her eyes. Eventually, he looked away, toward the pit. Nothing was moving, but the fires hadn’t died out yet. If there was still smoke, a demon could resurrect. Once the fires were done, then all were dead. It sometimes took days for the fires to go out. While they waited for the fires to die, they didn’t have to eat, but at the end, they would need a lot of food.
“There’s a new place in the St’thruo district on Galant Nine. Has the best dishes I’ve ever tasted. Shall we go there after?”
Scarlett nodded. “Sounds good. I can report this lot to Central on the way there.”
“Good.” He smiled at her one more time and turned his attention back to the pit. Scarlett stared at Lincoln for a while, wondering what she felt for him. After a few minutes, she looked back to the pit. She didn’t know, but she had time to find out.