So, I've decided that on Fridays, I'm going to start posting short stories. It'll be in pieces, from Friday to Friday, and then will be put together at the end for your reading pleasure. Since Christmas just happened, I figured the first story should be one about the holiday time of year. This is a story that first appeared in Affaire de Coeuer magazine a number of years ago. For Sazi lovers, it's a Tony Giodone story called:
NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING
Working on Christmas Eve sucks . . . even if you like your job. I was keeping to the shadows of the Paris alleys following the mark, because the City of Lights is even more so during the holidays. He’d suspected he was being chased in London a week ago, but probably thought he’d lost me in Lille after he hightailed it off the Eurostar with a stolen BMW.
He was wrong.
The near constant ringing of Notre Dame’s bells to signal the nativity mass had allowed me to get closer. Staying downwind made sure that his preternatural nose wouldn’t put him on guard. I find it interesting that even though was turned into a Sazi, a shapeshifting wolf, after an attack, not all that much has changed in my business as a professional assassin—with the exception that now I’m working for the good guys. It’s still weird introducing myself as Tony Giodone, lawman.
I slid a gloved hand inside my pocket to make sure my Taurus .38, complete with silver bullets, was ready to draw at a moment’s notice. Serial killer Dauren Ramsey was known for his viciousness and with him being a massive grizzly bear to my lesser werewolf on the full moon, I was at a distinct disadvantage.
Just the way I like it.
While I’d been following Ramsey, a thick cloud cover had blanketed the area, smothering the scents of balsam, cinnamon and the raft of human emotions under a wet mist that reminded me so much of the scent of sorrow that it was no wonder locals referred to winter as Gray Paree. Twinkling lights along the Champs Élysée diffused, taking on the appearance of a watercolor mural—all cool and blue, instead of stark white and festive.
I realized that the blue sorrow wasn’t just what I was seeing, it was inside my head too. The psychic connection I share with my wife is still sort of new to me. I’d closed myself off from Sue as I often do during jobs. While she liked a little better that I was now working for the shapeshifter police force instead of the Mafia—the job is still the same. I kill people for money. I just happen to kill seriously demented murderers now, those who are too physically and magically powerful to ever be held behind bars. Sazi are like any other predators. Once they get a taste for human flesh, there’s no way to rehabilitate them.
Unfortunately, Sue has a hard time with my job in the best times, and it’s harder for her when we’re mind-linked as I pull the trigger. It shouldn’t even be possible that we are connected, or so say the experts. She’s full human with no magic in her blood. But we are, and I am . . . so we do the best we can.
“La poesie, ca ne vaut pas un sandwich?” I’d heard the beggar approach me from behind but I ignored him at first, intent on my prey. A moment later, a hand touched my jacket and I turned narrowed eyes as he repeated the words. They sounded better in French than the English translation of, “isn’t poetry worth a sandwich?” The old man’s smell was rank with unwashed sweat, but there was no malice intended. He smelled beaten down by life, and afraid of me, but desperate. Being able to smell a person’s emotions is also new for me but it’s sure handy for spotting lies.
Normally, I’d just brush him off but my goal was to blend in. I reached in my pants pocket and handed him some bills while putting a finger to my lips—the universal request for silence. I still haven’t gotten used to the Euro conversions, so I had no idea how much I’d given him. But from the way his eyes lit up and he nodded mutely, I presume it was more than enough for a sandwich. Probably closer to a bottle of bubbly.
Another wave of depression slapped at my mind as I moved from shadow to shadow watching Ramsey gather an impressive number of shopping bags. I found it hard to imagine he was shopping for loved ones, since he’d been on the run for years. He’d disappeared into the European underworld after slaughtering and eating a dozen people in Imljani, Bosnia around the turn of the century . . . the nineteenth century, that is. But even in the supernatural world, there’s no statute of limitations for murder. So here I was in Paris of the twenty-first century, bringing down a convicted killer who, from the eyewitness accounts, made Jack the Ripper look like Jack and the Beanstalk...
(to be continued)