No Good Comes: Theo meets the body snatcher

He ignored the face one, picking up the nude. “Oh my god, is that what my knob looks like when I’m dead?”

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This is a first draft partial scene (currently scene 18)  from No Good Comes. Stephen King is now Theodore Eidolon. Erin’s POV.

***

“It’s Saturday, for god’s sake. Don’t you people have homes to go to?” I said, glaring at a kid called Sam, the closest thing Cascade had to an intern.

He looked at his shoes and I felt like a wanker.

“Ignore her,” said Theo. “I’ll make her bring you an Easter egg next week.”

“I’m allergic to chocolate,” said Sam, shoving his fists into the pockets of his too-big trousers.

Theo stopped following, which meant I either had to stop and loiter, which would make me look weak as fuck, or stalk off like a diva, which was much more my style. Even the office-blue carpet tiles didn’t do much to dull the thud of my heels.

“What sort of life do you have when you’re allergic to chocolate?” said Theo. “You must feel so empty.”

Sam shrugged. “Not really. I make up for it by eating all the pistachios.”

“Leaving aside the obvious disparity between the tastiness of chocolate and the tastiness or lack thereof of pistachios, I acknowledge your preference. I’ll make sure she brings you a bucketful.”

I leant against the wall next to the lift, arms folded.

Sam grinned. “Roasted and unsalted.”

“Noted,” said Theo, his tone the most imperious I’d heard yet. He strode towards the lift, standing quietly next to me while we waited the few seconds it took for the doors to open. When we got inside and turned round, everyone was still watching us. Theo shouted, “Good work, people. Carry on.”

Once the doors were closed, we burst out laughing.

“Oh, my god, who are you, Teddy?”

“I’ve always wanted to be that guy,” he said. “I mean, not forever. Just every now and again, I want to channel my inner insufferable wanker in a room full of strangers.”

“In that case,” I said, “mission accomplished.”

Theo looked at the illuminated circle on the panel and said, “What’s in the basement?”

I grinned and said, “The sewing room.”

“Which is what?”

I leant against the wall. “It’s where the bodies are made.”

“You’re being deliberately obstructive.”

The lift stopped, and we stepped into a grey, wipe-clean corridor.

“You’re about to meet the infamous body snatcher.”

Theo made a very girly noise, then followed my lead, squeezing a dollop of hand gel into his hands and rubbing them clean. We backed through the swing door, then turned to face the room.

Jesus, the undertakers were in.

“Entertaining?” I said, when Ophelia looked up.

She glanced at the three men sitting around the table, in their sombre braces with their shirt sleeves rolled up, like she’d forgotten they were there. Sharpy was doing a crossword on a tablet. He grinned a creepy undertaker grin because that’s what he did. He took pride in looking like Lurch. Baz and Eddie looked like normal people who didn’t hang around dead bodies all day, even though they did. They were playing rummy and drinking tea.

Ophelia said, “This him then?”

Theo waved, and Ophelia grinned.

“We were just off, Nixon,” said Eddie, winking at me on his way to the door.

The other two followed. Baz winked at Theo who smiled adorably. Sharpy lurched out of the room.

“What’s behind the curtain?” whispered Theo, nodding at the curtained off area to the left of Ophelia’s desk.

“Dead things,” I whispered back, wriggling my fingers at him.

“So this is the body snatcher?” said Theo.

I prayed that he wouldn’t mention her height. Ophelia hated being smaller than her dad, who, believing with his whole heart that there was nothing worse than a person who was both big and loud, overcompensated for his noise by making himself short. Deliberately. This was a travesty as far as Phee was concerned. She also looked more like her dad than any of her other siblings and felt some degree of luck at having escaped the big, bushy beard.

Ophelia’s hands went to her hips, and her eyebrows shot up while she waited for my excuse.

“He saw your name come up on words with friends,” I said.

I saw the moment the light came on in her eyes. “Tell me, Erin, what does piragua mean?”

What was she talking about? I didn’t even remember that one.

Theo said, “It’s a type of boat.”

Ophelia had this gleeful look in her eyes. She clapped her hands and something gross flew off. Theo and I jumped back.

She rolled her eyes and said, “It’s synthetic. I knew it though. I knew you were cheating somehow.”

“She wasn’t cheating,” said Theo. “I just butted in and—”

“It wasn’t him,” I said. “He was only brought up yesterday.”

“He said he butted in,” said Ophelia.

Theo looked at me in a please-dig-me-out-of-this-hole way.

“You don’t have to know what a word means to play scrabble,” I said. “I have no idea what io is, or zax, or qi. Seriously, nobody knows what those words mean.”

Ophelia squinted at me, then sighed. “I suppose I can let you win once.”

“Twice,” I said.

“Twice,” she allowed. “So, what are you guys doing down here?”

“He wanted to meet you,” I said.

“Did you make dead me?” said Theo.

Ophelia bounced on her toes. “Yep.”

“Do you have a photo of the me you made?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact.” She made a grimacy-frown face. “Did you want to see it?”

Theo narrowed his eyes. “Do I want to see it?”

She shrugged. “It’s not particularly gory. We use make-up on the bruises anyway, so we don’t bother with those. Makes no sense painting on bruises just to cover them up again.”

“Okay, then,” said Theo.

We followed Ophelia to her desk, and Theo jumped when he looked at the area behind the curtain where a dead-not-dead body was laid out on one table, and a real dead body, covered on three sides with a portable freezer cabinet that billowed puffs of cold air, was laid out on another.

Ophelia rummaged in a filing cabinet, then slapped two huge photos on the desk. One was of Theo’s face, eyes closed. The other was of his naked body.

He ignored the face one, picking up the nude. “Oh my god, is that what my knob looks like when I’m dead?”

Ophelia managed, “I can’t—” before she snorted out a laugh, reaching for a tissue to catch whatever flob she was dribbling while she died laughing.

“It looks like a pig in a blanket,” he said.

Ophelia continued to snort-laugh, while Theo continued to examine his dead penis.

“She did a great job with your hair,” I said, picking up the other photo. “And the break in your nose, look.”

He nodded. “So, did someone else do … I mean did you make the whole thing?”

“No,” said Ophelia, biting her lip until it bled. “I got a man to come in to do your cock and balls.”

“Really?” said Theo.

“No, you dipshit.” Then she was off again.

“She doesn’t get out much,” I said.

“So, are you going tomorrow?” she said, when she’d finally stopped behaving like a five-year-old who’d just heard bum on the telly.

“Why does everyone keep asking me that? I always go.”

“Because Joey’s going to be there,” said Ophelia.

“Oooh, who’s Joey?” said Theo.

“My—” How did I even explain who Joey was? He was everything to me when we were kids. He was the gay one. I was the fat one. We loved the same films and music and art. Then he hit twenty-one, and twenty-two, and thirty, and forty. He’d be fifty in a month’s time. I was still twenty. I wasn’t sure which of us was more resentful.

“Her best friend,” said Ophelia.

“We had an argument,” I said, which was the understatement of the century. I’d barely seen him in the flesh in six years.

We used to be the kind of friends who laughed hard and often, so in tune with each other, with identical senses of humour. People would watch us, see our dynamic, be envious of it. He’d lived so much life without me now that our dynamic had shifted. We both felt it, and others looked at us like they could see the pathetic sparks failing to catch alight. Nobody could see what we had in common anymore, they wondered why we hung out together. Maybe it was paranoia, I don’t know. But we argued about it a lot.

Sometimes, I felt like I should let him go and he clung to me. Sometimes, he wanted to let me go and I sunk my claws in deeper. The tug-of-war had been going on for something close to twenty years now and it was getting harder to hang on.

“Tell me you’re not dressing up,” said Ophelia.

“Yeah, I’m not.”

“Good, because we don’t need any terrified kids. Halloween was bad enough.”

“Yeah, but it was Halloween,” I said. “You’re supposed to look creepy at Halloween. None of this American shit with dressing up like a cupcake or fairy.”

“Unless it’s the cupcake of doom,” said Theo. “Or the fairy of unfiltered gore.”

Ophelia said, “You had live snakes in your hair.”

“I didn’t have live snakes in my hair, they just looked alive. And I was Medusa.”

***

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Meet Kite

“In my dream, this was the beginning. Errol said the domino is a figurative thing. He said the events of this dream signal Newton’s third law. The domino that topples the rest. The start of a new war.”

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Kite first appears in Of Blood and Oil, the third book in the series. A trans nephilim with a gross and scaly green coat, a fondness for fire and Doritos, the inability to eat while sitting, and an apocalypse cupboard in their room.

Violet’s twin sister has gone missing while looking for someone who was believed to be dead. The only clue is a shrine of surveillance images of the London Underground, where Violet encounters vicious, hairy panic.

***

From Of Blood and Oil …

A station platform passed by in slow motion, its curved, tiled walls reflecting the yellow lights above. Standing on a metal bench, fists bared, was a tall, skinny somebody in a black hoodie, a curtain of moss green hair covering half their face. They roared at a vaewolf, one fist finding its throat, the other its nose. It yelped when its attacker leant to the side, aiming a kick square into the beast’s chest. It staggered backwards across the platform where two more vaewolves lay unconscious. The somebody jumped down from the bench, but more vaewolves were pouring through the archways behind them.

“Violet,” Daniel whispered, turning his head sideways to get one last look before the platform disappeared from view. “They’re like us.”

“Go get them then.”

***

A tangle of flailing limbs and scratching hands landed with a thump on the carriage floor.

“Hey!” I bellowed at the stranger, whose nails were sinking into Daniel’s neck. “A thank you will suffice.”

She scrambled to her feet. She was taller than me and built like a pencil. The corner of her mouth quirked into a half smile, and she snorted at me. She had curious hazel eyes, mostly a mossy green flecked with honey. She pulled her hood back revealing short, jet black hair. Dyed black hair if the greenish tinge was anything to go by. A thick green fringe, the exact colour of mushy peas, fell forward, covering half her face. She was striking, her long face giving the impression of being reflected in the back of a spoon.

“What would I be thanking him for?” she said, her raspy voice low and incredulous.

“Rescuing you,” I said, scowling up at her. She was like an exceptionally tall pixie.

“Did I look like I needed rescuing?” she said, leaning forward as her hands went to her hips. She winced.

“Yeah, you did. You’re hurt,” I said, reaching for her waist. She swatted my hand away and glared at me. “Let me see,” I said, reaching out again.

“I’m not hurt,” she said, taking a step back.

“If one of those things bit you …”

“Fine,” she said, pulling up the back of her jacket and turning her back towards me. “See, no bites. I had a tattoo coloured this morning and it hurts when I touch it, that’s all.”

The lower portion of her back on her right side was covered in gauze, which disappeared into the waistband of her jeans.

“Wow, how far up do they go?” I said, tracking the column of tattoos until they disappeared beneath her jacket. I caught sight of a bandage wrapped around the middle of her back, before she hastily tugged her jacket down.

“All the way up and over the opposite shoulder to here,” she said, chopping at her left arm at a point midway between her elbow and shoulder.

***

“You can sit, you know,” said Caleb, nodding at an armchair.

“Nah, it’s alright,” said Kite. “Have you got any food? I’m starving.”

Caleb sauntered off to the kitchen, coming back with an armful of snacks and dumping them on the coffee table. Kite opened a bag of tortilla chips. Perching on the very edge of a chair, so she could escape at any moment, she stuffed the snacks into her mouth, packing her cheeks and rolling her eyes.

I laughed. “When was the last time you ate?”

She choked on her tortillas. Caleb handed her his beer bottle, and she grabbed it, taking a large swig to clear her throat. “It’s been a while,” she said. “I got fired.”

“Where did you work?”

“Scuzzy little café at Elephant and Castle.”

“Why did they fire you?”

“Punched one of the customers and smashed a plate on his head.”

“That’ll do it,” said Caleb.

***

From Cascadence of Truth …

“This is like that crazy old shop in Gremlins,” said Kite.

I laughed. “Gremlins?”

“What? I’ve seen movies. Darryl had a really bad addiction to shitty eighties films. Don’t go near anything that moves. Or sings. See, look, a gremlin.”

Kite pointed across the room at a creature perched on top of a teetering stack of suitcases.

“It’s a cat,” I said. “A very bald and reptilian looking cat.”

“Fuck, if that’s a cat,” Kite said sceptically.

***

When Kite arrived to a full drawing room, a statement was made. Without a word, or any thought for the assorted ornaments on Uriel’s fireplace, Kite unfolded his wings. They were the colour of charcoal, with silver tips, and huge, knocking stuff over left and right. Kite stood, hands on hips, chewing his lip ring, and glaring around the room. In the usual black skinny jeans and vest, and with a newly-shaved undercut, freshly dyed a dark silver, he looked exactly like he was meant to. Like an angel with the devil’s attitude.

A few minutes later, everyone started to filter outside, where it was warm and breezy. Kite nodded sideways at the French windows and set off.

I followed. “Uriel said you had balance issues.”

Kite’s voice was deeper than I was used to. “I did. I do. Everything’s the wrong size since the wings came in. And I feel … heavier. In really weird places.” Kite shrugged. “I’ll get used to it.”

***

DeMobbed: a scene

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This is a first draft of what is currently scene 22.

Context: the runaways have just spent their first night on the run in a motel room. They wake to find a man where there should be a dog.

Note: a springer is someone who can boost locks just by running their hands over them. The kiss alluded to sounds like Vlad kissed a dog. He didn’t. He was kissed by someone unexpected to distract him from river lust (the overwhelming urge to throw himself into a river – a vampire thing).

POV: third person, Jay’s perspective.

***

As soon as Jay Looper rolled onto his back, the kid scrambled away and jumped out of the bed, flinging the covers at him. A blonde girl he hadn’t seen before was peering over the dark-haired girl’s shoulder, a wary look on her wide-eyed face. The vampire was watching Sunny with amusement.

“Whoa! Who the fuck are you?” Sunny shouted. “What have you done to my dog?”

“Do I look like I’m in any position to do anything to anyone?”

“I dunno, man,” said the blonde girl, her voice husky with sleep. “You looked like you were in a position to bang Sunny good and hard.”

Jay grinned as he raised his arm above his head and stretched his body beneath the covers. “Get attached to the dog did you?”

“Where is he?” Sunny whistled. “Tripod?”

Jay groaned. “How can we be related?”

“Related what? Who are you?”

“Jay Looper,” said the blonde girl. “That’s right, isn’t it? The cherry guy.”

“The cherry guy?” said Jay, pushing himself upright against the headboard.

“I served you at Lucky D’s a couple of days ago,” she said.

“Nah, that was a guy,” said Jay. “Where’s my arm?”

Everyone seemed to notice Jay’s missing arm at once, a collective gasp rising, and all eyes momentarily on his shoulder before flicking to his face.

“That was me,” said the girl, turning into the blonde guy from the bar. His voice deepened. “And your arm is still in the van.”

“Can you get it for me, Sunny,” said Jay, looking up at the mussed-up kid still standing there, hands on hips. “And my clothes. They were behind the passenger seat.”

“How do you know my name?” said Sunny, pulling on his shorts.

“Even if he hadn’t already said your name just now,” said Jay, running his hand lazily down his chest, “I’ve heard it enough times in the last thirty-six hours. Besides, I came back to Vegas to find you. Or Jenna did. Fuck, I’m starving.” He threw the covers back and dropped his feet to the floor. “You got anything to eat in here?”

Jay had never been shy about his body, which was just as well, because everyone was looking at it while he paced around the room looking for food.

“You mind covering up your ass?” said Freya.

“You don’t like it?” he said, flexing his cheeks.

“It’s not as good as Indy’s,” said Freya.

Indy blushed, and Jay smirked. “Hurry up and get my clothes, kid. This lady is offended by my arse.”

“I’ll go,” said Indy, sliding out of the bed so he didn’t let any heat escape. He pulled on a pair of jeans from his suitcase, then looked up at the vampire. “What? I was too hot to keep the shirt on.”

“Vlad, right?” said Jay, a wicked grin on his face. Vlad nodded. “That was one hell of a kiss yesterday.”

Vlad scowled at Jay.

“Key?” said Indy, holding out his hand.

“You won’t need it,” said Jay. “Jenna trusts you by now.”

“Who the fuck is Jenna?”

“The van,” said Jay.

“Speaking of,” said Indy, “Astaroth said we need to change it. Any idea what that means?”

“When you get my stuff, tell her I said she needs a paint job.”

Indy put on a different face, and trotted outside barefoot in just his jeans. Freya snuggled further under the covers when the vampire looked at her. Jay wasn’t sure whether she was hiding from his body or hiding her own.

“I need food,” said Jay. “But not more than I need a piss.”

“Jesus, do you just say everything that comes into your mind?” said Freya.

“Usually,” said Jay, heading for the bathroom.

He slammed the door shut behind him, but he could still hear them talking. He stared at his reflection in the mirror above the toilet. Who the fuck puts a mirror above a toilet? Do normal people like to watch themselves pissing? He still looked like a dog. He needed a hairbrush and a shave. It didn’t look like he had any new scars, though there was a bruise on his ribs where the pain had hit. He had no idea what kind of curse would’ve turned him into a dog.

He flushed, washed his hands then threw water on his face. Someone banged on the door.

“What do you mean we’re related?” Sunny yelled.

Jay opened the cupboard beneath the sink, where there was a bundle of new toothbrushes. He chose a red one.

“Are you a fucking dog? Damn, that’s a bad trick to play on a guy. Were you my dog?”

“Of course he was your fucking dog, you moron,” Vlad mumbled.

Jay snorted a laugh, then brushed his teeth.

“Hey, are you listening to me?” Sunny banged on the door again. “I liked that dog. You suck.”

“What are you, four?” said Vlad.

“Shut up, Dracula. And how did you know I was in Vegas?”

Jay opened the door, and Sunny fell into him, straightening quickly.

“Don’t make any one-armed bandit jokes,” said Jay, narrowing his eyes as he looked down at Sunny. “I see how your mind works.”

Sunny scowled. “I wasn’t going to.”

“Good. Because even with one arm, I could knock the living shit out of you. I’d use my prosthesis as a club. How about that?”

“I’m sorry I called you Tripod,” said Sunny, looking contrite.

Jay thought he was adorable. “I’m just kidding.” He slapped Sunny’s shoulder. “Hey, lighten up. I was kidding.”

“He doesn’t like being touched,” said Vlad.

Sunny spun around to look at Vlad, then back at Jay.

“You’ve been snuggling up to me for thirty-six hours straight, dude,” said Jay.

“British guys shouldn’t say dude,” said Sunny, a sulky pout overtaking his mouth. “Y’all sound stupid saying dude.”

“One’s criticism is duly noted,” said Jay, in his best imitation of the Queen. In his normal voice, he said, “No comment on the snuggling?”

Sunny shrugged. “You were a cute dog. So … we’re related?”

Jay nodded. “Brothers,” he said, as Indy came back in with his arm and caught an eyeful of genitalia.

“Still naked?” said Indy, throwing the clothes on the bed, and handing Jay his arm. “You couldn’t wrap it in a towel or something?”

Jay sat on the bed. “What took you so long?”

“You didn’t tell me I’d have to coax the door open. I damn near had to seduce your van to get it to let me in.”

“Did you call her an it?” said Jay, turning away from everyone as he set about attaching his arm. “She doesn’t like being misgendered.”

“Man, that ain’t funny,” said Indy.

“And I ain’t laughing. She doesn’t like being called it. Vans can have feelings too, you know.”

“Shut up! Shut up!” Sunny’s hands were up in the air, and his head was down. He looked like a preach meme. “How can I be your brother?”

“Willow Wyatt is my mother,” said Jay.

“But you’re British.”

“English, yeah. So?”

“So how can we be brothers?”

“You’ve heard of travel, yes?” said Jay, raising an eyebrow. “I guess our mother got around. I don’t know. I never knew her.”

“You don’t look like her,” said Sunny.

“I look like my dad,” said Jay, a thunderous feeling starting to build in his head. He pulled on his jeans, then his t-shirt.

“I look like my mom.”

“I know. I’ve seen pictures of her. She’s very beautiful.”

“Are you saying I’m beautiful?” said Sunny.

“Dude, you’re my brother.”

“Dude, no dude.”

“I can’t help it. I had an Americanised childhood. It was traumatic and left me with linguistic throwbacks and cultural scars.”

For a moment, Jay thought Indy and Freya were shagging in the other bed, then he realised that Indy was sitting on the floor by Vlad, who was still huddled beneath the blankets on the tiny sofa.

“What are you doing?” said Jay. “You look like Houdini trying to get out of a sack.”

“I’m getting dressed,” Freya hissed.

Jay laughed. It earned him twin glares from her lover boys.

“So Indy? You can flip between the D and the V?”

“You’re a gross little man, you know that?” said Indy. “I liked you better when you were a dog. Speaking of, it’s a bit rich dragging me for flipping when you can turn into a dog.”

Vlad sat up, which tugged at the covers behind Indy. He leant forward and turned as the covers slipped off Vlad’s chest. He might’ve had more scars than Jay. He watched the two men look at each other, and a wave of shame washed over him.

“First,” said Jay, “I wasn’t dragging you because you can flip. I was, as you say, being a gross little man. I forget sometimes that other people are … people. I’m not fabulous at being around others, so sorry for being offensive. And second, I can’t turn into a dog. I don’t know how that happened. I was cursed or something, and it somehow wore off.”

“It didn’t somehow wear off,” said Indy. “Whoever cursed you is dead. That’s how this shit works.”

“He was fine when I left him,” said Jay. “Well, not fine exactly. Maybe he was eaten by wolves.”

“Some guys came into the casino looking for you,” said Indy. “The day after I served you at the bar.”

Jay had heard them discussing it in the van, but he really wasn’t ready to talk about any of that. “What guys?”

“Angels,” said Freya, emerging from her cocoon fully-dressed. “There’s a photo of one of them in your van.”

“I doubt it,” he said. “I don’t know any angels.”

“They know you,” said Freya. “The one in the photo has blue hair now though.”

Jay’s grin was so instant that he knew he’d given himself away. “I told you—”

Freya rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah, you don’t know any angels.”

“She says I’m an angel,” said Sunny. “That my real father is an angel.”

“I know one angel,” Jay amended.

“So, it’s true?”

“Yeah. You’re a springer, so it’ll be Sandalphon. His whole line would make a fine organisation of burglars if they weren’t so angelic.” Jay snorted as he remembered the not-so-angelic branch of Sandalphon’s tree.

“The angels were from Cascade,” said Freya. “That makes you as wanted as we are. Isn’t that fun?”

***

The source image above is from Activedia on Pixabay.