Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Alumnus

The sky was dark. So dark the streetlights came on at noon. A storm was on the rise. He paid the weather scant attention. The sudden cold gust barely reached him. He merely rolled his shoulders deeper into his battered leather duster and plodded on.

The rain began to fall. Slowly at first. Large pregnant drops exploded on the pavement. By the time he reached his destination it had transformed into a driving rain that stung the skin and limited vision to a few feet. If not for the collision avoidance systems in every car and controls slaved to the commuting grid, automobiles would have been plunging from the sky like polycarbonate hailstones.

He rapped a seemingly random tattoo on a battered plastic door set into a dingy alcove of a particularly dingy building. Instantly the door irised open. Though the man was big, close to two metres and 126 kilograms, the beast who opened the door dwarfed him. The muscles in his neck appeared to have trouble getting out of the way of one another. Slight scars showed wherever his skin was exposed to view. Evidence of cheap muscle grafts. This was clearly done for pragmatic reasons, aesthetics be damned.

“Preacher. Nice to see you again. It’s been a while.” The voice was reminiscent of house sized boulders crushing a serene Swiss village during an avalanche. The tone suggested that there would be no survivors.

The man grunted an unintelligible greeting, removed his respirator and made his way down a dimly lit hallway. He stopped before an ornate oaken door, out of place in the crumbling brick wall. With a black gloved hand, he turned the polished brass ring. Locked. With a sigh, he placed both hands against the door and pushed. The massive door exploded from its hinges and sailed across the room, splintering against a wall covered in rich tapestries.

“I knew they’d send you.”

The Preacher said nothing. He pulled an archaic weapon from beneath his coat and levelled it at a slightly built and rather effeminate man. The report from the Smith & Wesson .500 shook dust free from the bookcases and shelves that lined the room. The half inch diameter lead slug made a small, neat hole in the faerie’s chest. It made a ragged, fist sized hole exiting his back before it came to a stop three inches into the thick panelled wall.

The Preacher flipped the weapons cylinder open, retrieved the empty brass casing, placed it delicately in his pocket and replaced it with a fresh cartridge. He returned the ancient revolver to a shoulder rig opposite its twin and made his way back down the hall. The mobile pile of rock hard flesh blocked the door.

“Guess I’m unemployed.”

The Preacher said nothing.

“You didn’t do me any favours you know. Gonna be hard to get a job after this. My fault I guess, should have picked my employer more carefully. Well, nice seeing you again.” The bodyguard affixed his own respirator, ducked beneath the door frame and disappeared into the rain.

In the brief time he had been out of the elements, the rain had transformed the empty street into a violent river that threatened to wash over the broken sidewalk. In the dim glow from the hovering street lamps he could see the oily sheen on the waters surface. The rain was always oily. “How can rain be oily”, he wondered, as he made his way down the deserted street.


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