12 April 2010 @ 10:49 am

And FINALLY on to Chapter 8...

 


Chapter 8

 

 

I don’t like this.”

The comment hung heavy between the young women seated outside the small gas station just north of Oak Ridge. It was amazing how much weight four little words could carry when they echoed the sentiment of others. Just the utterance of those words seemed to carry the very gravity of a situation, especially theirs.

Blue eyes shifted to an ominously calm face before they moved back to the road, settling on each passing car with a heavy sigh.

“We got that the first dozen times you said it, Skuld,” Urd muttered, her chin resting on her knees. “You don’t have to keep saying it.”

Skuld kicked a rock at her foot, watching the pebble bounce off the gas pump nearby. “But it bears repeating.”

Urd was silent as she watched the millionth red truck pass by, shaking her head.

“None of us likes this,” Verdandi commented as she lay behind the pair.

The three sat occupying a small picnic table outside of Red’s Service Station, waiting for their ‘job’ to show up. The mood between the three bordered on somber as they watched the cars pass by. Rarely a word was spoken between the trio as each car passed, the tension in the air growing with each passing second.

It was no secret none of them liked this new task. Even Verdandi had objected when the order was given. However, there was nothing they could do; their ‘master’ gave them an order and they couldn’t go against it. So there they were, waiting at the town’s little gas station/garage for the latest additions to the ever-growing body count.

 

Skuld sat kicking at the pebbles at her feet as Urd occupied the opposite end of the small bench, curled up with her knees to her chest. And while the pair watched every car that passed, Verdandi lay sprawled out on the table behind them.

Urd closed her eyes, letting the sun warm her skin as she focused on the sounds around them. The soft bump of the pebbles Skuld kicked mixed with the sounds of the mechanics in the nearby garage bay to make an almost relaxing version of white noise. At least it was enough to drown out the uneasy thoughts in her head.

Skuld kicked a larger stone, watching it bounce across the broken concrete to ring soundly against the gas pump’s metal facing. A small smile pulled at her lips as she sat back, glancing at her oldest sister for a moment. She sighed softly as she pushed her hair from her face.

“You know, we’ve done a lot of jobs in the past. I’m talking huge jobs. Ones that have gone down in history. Europe’s Black Plague, Vesuvius erupting, the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Japan, and all those countless other history makers we’ve done. But somehow I don’t really think Oak Ridge, Ohio, is going to show up in our list of history-making jobs,” Verdandi muttered.

Skuld turned to look at her sister, her brow knitting. “There’s a list? You’re telling me you made a list?”

“Natural and man-made disasters, wars and pretty much anything these humans can throw at each other. It’s an interesting list.” Verdandi turned her head, looking at her sister. “You should read it sometime.”

“Thanks, but no.” Skuld looked back toward the road, giving her sister behind her an uneasy glance. “You worry me sometimes.”

“She worries me all the time, Skuld.” Urd opened her eyes, looking at the sister beside her. “Welcome to my world.”

Verdandi sat up, looking around as she popped her neck. “I’m sure it’s some freaky place with talking unicorns and little happy elves jumping rope or something.”

“Are you high?” Urd turned and glared at her sister, her brow knitting. “Seriously.”

“Nope, just bored.” She pushed her black hair back, eying the banner advertising cold drinks. “And hungry.”

A look of confusion crossed both Skuld and Urd’s faces as their sister climbed from the table.

“I’m gonna get something to eat. You two want anything?” Verdandi asked, turning to the two.

The pair on the bench shook their heads as their sister dusted herself off and moved toward the shop’s door. “Just checking.”

Skuld scratched her head as Urd scowled at the retreating figure, both hearing the bell on the door ring as she entered.

“I can’t believe her.” Urd shook her head, waving toward the small store. “She can’t find one redeeming quality about humans unless it's food related.”

Skuld thumbed toward the store, confusion still in her eyes. “Where did she get money from?”

Urd shrugged, sitting back. “Who knows at this point. She probably stole it from that Kim woman’s house.”

Skuld looked toward the store, tucking a lock of white hair behind her ear. “The longer we’re here, the worse she’s getting. Especially with these tasks we’re getting.”

“Verdandi has always been creative, but I know what you’re saying. It’s too many, too fast.” Urd commented, putting her head back against the table. “All of this is wearing us down, Skuld.”

Skuld nodded, taking an even breath. “These ‘jobs’ are getting worse and worse.”

“And her hit list doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter,” Urd muttered.

A moment of silence passed between the two as Urd examined her hands, the slender fingers of her left hand curling and uncurling as she made a fist. Skuld watched the gesture quietly, pursing her lips as the motion continued.

“Are you sure we can get out of all this? That contact of yours, he can help us?” Skuld finally asked.

Urd turned her left hand over before resting it in her lap. “Have a little faith, Skuld.”

The pair looked up as Verdandi stepped from the store with a soda and bag of chips, both shaking their heads.

“What?” Verdandi took a long drink of the soda she carried, stepping on her sister’s bench as she reclaimed her spot on the table. “You act like I’ve done something wrong.”

“Not yet.” Skuld muttered. Her eyes locked on a spot on the horizon as she straightened, her tone even. “But you will.”

Urd looked over her shoulder as Verdandi shoved a couple potato chips in her mouth, motioning to the snack. “You know you’re just going to lose those.”

“I know.” Verdandi grinned as she held up the green soda bottle, tipping it toward her sister. “But I might as well enjoy it while I can.”

Both looked toward the pumps as a car pulled up, their blue eyes locking on the two women arguing inside.

“What an attractive couple,” Verdandi muttered sarcasm in her voice. She coughed, bringing a hand to her mouth. “I just threw up in my mouth a little.”

Urd rolled her eyes as she got to her feet, hearing the muffled shouting from the car behind her. “Now really isn’t the time for the smart remarks, Verdandi.”

“You’re such a buzz kill, you know that?” Verdandi shoved a handful of chips in her mouth, motioning toward the little red car at the pumps. “Besides, they aren’t going anywhere. We all know that.”

Their attention moved to the car at the gas pump as the women got out, the three exchanging glances.

They knew the women by name, Mindy Crosby and Lanae Weaver respectively, and the photos their “master” had shown them had been correct.

Lanae was the tallest of the pair, the photo of her not really doing her justice. They had only seen a head shot of her, some overly happy shot with a grin Verdandi had called corny, but it had been enough to identify her. Seeing her in person put her in a different perspective.

She was tall, but her pear-shaped frame and medium build seemed to take away from that fact. The short mess of overly reddish-brown hair left a lot to be desired and made her look far less appealing than if it had been a more natural shade. Her face was long and somehow didn’t seem to fit with the rest of her, the flash of too-large teeth doing very little to add any amount of attractiveness that one could see. The jeans and faded concert tee she wore were styled more male than female and gave her a butch appearance. From a distance, her mannerisms made her look like a man to the trio at the picnic table though they knew better. Normally a butch woman wouldn't be a problem for them. They had come across many before in their time but this one was different There was something more, something beneath the surface that the trio caught. It was something that didn't sit well with any of them. There was a darkness in Lanae's personality that seemed to radiate out from her and turned their stomachs in a nervous fit when they looked her way. They could see it in her eyes, that thinly veiled flash that warned of a double-cross and killed any inkling of trust that may have surfaced.

Verdandi swirled her soda around before she took a drink, a cocky grin on her face. “Now that’s a bad dye job. Are we sure that’s even a woman?”

“Yes,” Skuld muttered.

“Just checking.” Verdandi sighed and looked toward the second woman, shaking her head. “Oh yeah. She’s a winner too.”

Mindy, the shorter of the two, wasn’t much easier on the eyes. She was heavy set, her brown hair pulled back into a messy looking ponytail. They knew she was 36 but her face made her look far older than that. The round face was sagged, the circles present beneath her eyes adding to her age. The jeans and dark cotton tee shirt she wore fit her well enough and looked comfortable on her as she got out of the car. Unlike her traveling companion, there was no uneasy feeling that hung around Mindy. She simply looked haggard.

“Hey, twenty bucks says she ain’t got a tooth in her head,” Verdandi cheerfully offered.

Her sisters turned and leveled a cold glare at her, Urd shaking her head.

“What is wrong with you?” Skuld hissed.

Verdandi shot her younger sister a pissy look, her eyes moving to the cold figure of Urd nearby.

“That smart-ass comment is the last one I want to hear come from your mouth until this is over.” There was a dangerous edge to Urd’s voice as she pointed at Verdandi, her eyes cold. “Am I clear?”

The young woman nodded as she threw her hands up, swallowing her mouthful of soda as she took a sudden interest in the leg of her jeans.

Skuld’s eyes moved to her oldest sister for a moment, catching a glimmer of exhaustion in her eyes.

“Let's get this over with,” Urd muttered, shaking her head slowly.

Skuld turned to Verdandi, giving her a death glare as their sister turned back toward the pumps. She got to her feet, her voice a low hiss as she looked her older sister in the eyes. It was clear how unamused the young woman was.

“Seriously. Knock it off,” she hissed. “You aren’t helping.”

Verdandi rolled her eyes, finishing off the remaining chips before wiping her hands on her jeans. “Whatever.”

Urd ignored the pair behind her as she stood watching the women at the pump.

They had no idea what was about to happen to them; no idea that someone had made them a “task” for the Fates. Like most humans, they probably thought that the trio who watched them now was little more than a story told to children, some fairytale passed through the ages. Even if they didn’t shrug them off as myth, if they knew exactly what lay in store, it couldn’t help them. Nothing could at this point; their fate had already been chosen for them.

A heavy sigh escaped the soft red lips as Verdandi and Skuld moved to stand with her, her slender hand clenching slightly.

The trio watched the women continue their argument from the car, exchanging saddened glances.

“Why are you so upset about me spending time with a friend?” Mindy questioned.

The three sets of blue moved to Lanae as she reached for the gas nozzle, Verdandi taking a deep breath.

Urd’s left arm rose gracefully as the delicate fingers spread apart, her hand reaching toward the scene. Her eyes focused on the pair as she concentrated, the piercing blue of her eyes growing colder. Her chest rose as she took a deep breath and her spine straightened.

“Ligamen a vita, audite textor textrix dico.” Her voice held an otherworldly echo as she spoke, filling the air around them and sending chills down her siblings’ spines. “Adeo mihi!”

The air glittered as three gossamer threads snaked their way to the outstretched hand, dancing around the delicate fingers as Urd’s hand turned over. Her fingers curled and drew the threads in, a quick roll of her wrist combining the threads.

“Three?” Skuld looked at the threads, tracing the extra thread toward the garage with her eyes. “This is going to be messy.”

Urd’s hand wrapped around the combined threads in a fist, her eyes flashing a brilliant blue as she pulled them taught and brought her fist toward her chest. “More than one is always messy.”

Their eyes moved to the women at the pump, watching as life played out before them.

The argument from the car continued as Lanae filled the tank, Mindy watching her from across the trunk.

“Why don’t you answer me?” She glared across the car at the woman who refused to respond, her hands clenching into fists. “Damn it, Lanae.”

Three sets of eyes settled on the silent woman; three sets examining the emotionless face.

The annoyingly incessant voice with its pointed questions did little to change the blank expression. It was as if Lanae wasn’t even listening to her traveling companion. However, while her face showed nothing, the blue eyes caught a dangerous flicker in the green orbs. It was a subtle glimpse but it was there; a precursor to a growing danger.

Verdandi’s hand moved to the threads, her gaze settling on the emotionless face.

“It’s fine for you to go out with friends, but the minute I go to my friends without you, you go off the deep end. You call me, tell me to get my ass back to where you are or else.” Mindy’s gestures mirrored the anger in her voice as she talked. “You threaten to destroy my things; in some cases, you do just that. And you think all that is okay.”

Skuld and Urd glanced toward their sister as Lanae moved to open the car’s trunk.

“I just don’t get you, Lanae. You flip out over nothing, then expect me to act like everything is okay,” Mindy continued.

Skuld reached for the thread, her fingers hovering above it as Lanae dug around in the car’s trunk. Urd continued to hold the strings tight while Verdandi let her fingers skim across them. None of them looked away as Mindy kept pushing, Verdandi’s fingers closing ever so slowly around the thread.

“You berate me, say you’re sorry, then turn around and do it all again.” Mindy moved closer, Lanae still looking through the trunk. “After all that, I still help you. And for what? I begged people for money so you wouldn’t get kicked out of your apartment just so you could turn around and yell at me, tell me I wasn’t a good friend because I didn’t beg your landlord to give you more time.”

Verdandi’s fingers pinched the threads before they danced further down the shimmering cord and pinched again, removing her hand.

“Are you even listening to me?”

Skuld focused on the two marks her sister had left behind, her fingers coming down on the first one to pinch it.

The movement from the trunk was fast as Lanae spun around, the tire iron in her hand connecting with Mindy’s face. “Shut your fucking mouth, cow.”

The trio watched as blood flew from the woman’s mouth and her body reeled backward.

“I’m sick of your stupid fucking voice.” The iron swung around and connected with the side of Mindy’s skull, sending her to the ground. “You’re nothing but a fat ugly whore.”

She swung the iron at the prone body, connecting with the woman’s skull each time. The sound of bone breaking filled the air with each swing as blood continued to fly, spattering the car as well as Lanae in the process. The brutal beating continued even as the body lay motionless at Lanae’s feet, the rage in her eyes never ebbing. Each swing brought with it the most disturbing sound that didn’t faze the woman in the slightest.

The sound, like an over-ripe melon dropping on a sidewalk, may not have done anything to faze Mindy’s attacker but it was a different story with the trio. It was disturbing; even for one who had seen so much destruction over the centuries it was disturbing. Verdandi turned away from the scene and found a sudden interest in the soda bottle she carried, trying to ignore the sound as best she could. It may have been her ‘idea,’ but the sound was unsettling. For Urd and Skuld, turning around wasn’t an option; the only thing to do was close their eyes.

The sound finally stopped as Lanae, blood-covered and looking for the world like a caged animal, backed away. “When someone says shut up, you shut the hell up.”

The sisters returned to watching the scene as Lanae backed up, knocking the gas nozzle loose from the car.

It hit the broken concrete with a metallic ring, sending up a shower of the flammable liquid that soaked the woman and formed a creeping puddle across the cement. The sharp smell of gasoline began to waft across the small lot, the acrid scent reaching the garage as the growing puddle spread to the lifeless form just behind the car. As the woman began to pace, the now pink-tinged pool slowly stretched beneath the car.

Skuld swallowed as she looked toward her older siblings, her hand hovering above the second mark. “It couldn’t have been something simple like a car wreck.”

“I use what is available,” Verdandi muttered.

Urd shook her head as she exchanged a glance with the youngest, her eyes moving back to the scene before them.

There was a movement from the garage as the mechanic on duty stepped out, the heavy-set old man wiping his hands on a rag.

Skuld took a deep breath as she noticed the thread coming from the man’s chest. “Him?”

“Wrong place, wrong time,” Urd sighed.

The old man took a deep breath as the sun shown down, the smile that had been on his face fading with the strong smell of fuel that hit his nose. His gaze moved out across the drive and pumps to find the source, freezing at the scene before him. The color drained from his rounded face as he took in the sight: the bloody mess of a woman pacing beside the lifeless body as a growing pool of gasoline stretched out beneath the parked car.

“Red, call the cops!”

Skuld’s fingers pinched the last mark on the threads with the words, hearing the snap of the cords.

Lanae spun toward the voice in surprise, the tire iron at her side sparking as it dragged quickly across the concrete.

 

It took one single spark to catch fire to the gasoline near her foot and set the pool ablaze. The flames shot upward to find the fuel on her clothing and snaked along the surface of the pools to set both victim and attacker alight and fill the air with black smoke. The writhing body could barely be seen in the dense smoke even as the flames covered her.

The three exchanged quick glances as the fire spread beneath the car to the gas tank.

“This is gonna be quick,” Verdandi muttered, taking a drink from her soda.

The flames swirled around the car’s gas tank as the smoke rose higher and cast a shadow over the service station. It wasn’t long before a hissing sound could be heard through the smoke. For the briefest moment the clouds around the car parted and an uneasy silence filled the air, the orange-red flames licking the sides of the car in a wild dance.

The silence was short-lived though, the gas tank finally succumbing to the heat.

The car ripped apart, sending shards of glass and metal in all directions in its shockwave. The heavy smoke rolled away in a fireball that engulfed everything it touched as it fed on the fume heavy air and spread a path of destruction across the lot. Glass melted and metal curled, the air splitting with an earth-rattling boom that could be heard for miles.

The three watched the fireball race outward, claiming the mechanic’s life and charring the buildings nearby. They didn’t look away as the fire moved steadily toward them. They didn’t really seem to care as the wall of fire reached out and rolled over them, the wicked flames surrounding each one as the black smoke settled thick around the destruction.

For a moment, there was no movement in the darkness. There was no motion in the smoke where the trio had been; no discernible shapes that stood out to the eye. No voices penetrated the undulating miasma as the fires continued to burn, sending dark plumes high above the scene.

The grey-black haze swirled as though teased by an unfelt breeze in the oddly stagnant atmosphere, three forms finally taking shape. It parted before the figures, misty tendrils trying to hold to the slender bodies in a final attempt to keep them hidden in the choking haze. The tiny wisps that clung to the unscathed trio disappeared as they walked away from the scene.

“Do you know what the word subtle means?” Skuld dusted herself off as she glanced toward Verdandi. “Honestly. Do you know the meaning of the word?”

“I know how to do subtle,” Verdandi muttered her eyes on her now empty hand. “Should have finished my soda. Now I’m thirsty.”

Urd pushed her hair back, walking in silence as her sisters spoke.

“Subtle, an adjective meaning slight and not obvious.” Skuld glanced back toward the wreckage. “Blowing up a gas station is not subtle.”

 

Verdandi shrugged, walking behind her older sister. “But it worked.”

“Forty-foot-high smoke plume and all,” Skuld muttered. “Gee, I wonder if the hunters in town will notice that.”

Urd tucked her hands in her pockets as she walked, her eyes shifting toward town. “You’d have to be stupid to think they wouldn’t notice.”

Both women looked toward her as they continued to put distance between themselves and their handiwork.

“If anything, it will probably make them want to kill us that much faster,” Urd commented.

“So now what do we do?” Verdandi questioned.

Urd stopped and turned toward her sisters, sighing heavily. “Same thing we were doing before. We avoid them and keep looking for that damn book. Not exactly rocket science there.”

“Not blowing anything else up would help too,” Skuld added. “Less 'here we are, come kill us' neon sign-ish that way.”

Verdandi shot her sister a less than happy look as Urd pushed a hand back through her hair. “Not exactly how I would have phrased it, but that too.”

“Oh, come on. It was a job,” Verdandi hissed, throwing her hands up. “It got done.”

“At any rate, we just have to avoid them a little more actively, avoid any more pyrotechnics and we should be okay,” Urd interrupted.

Skuld’s eyes shifted toward the road, her ears picking up the distant wail of sirens.

“And our ‘master’? What about her?”

Verdandi’s question, coupled with the venom that hung heavy around the word 'master,' struck an already-raw nerve with Urd.

“The longer she holds us, the worse her punishment will be.” Skuld’s voice was even as she spoke, looking at each sister in turn. “We all know this.”

“We’ll deal with her when the time comes,” Urd replied.

“And the damned spellbook? We’ve looked all over that house and found nothing.” Verdandi leveled her gaze on her older sister. “What else do we do?”

“Look everywhere else she goes. We check beyond that house.” The edge in her voice was dangerous as she looked at her sisters. “She’s only ever seen us like this so we use the forms she hasn’t seen and we look elsewhere.”

Skuld and Verdandi nodded as Urd turned and walked toward town, the sounds of sirens converging behind them.

***


Dean sighed as he and Sam left the Oak Ridge municipal garage, fishing his baby’s keys from his pocket.

The visit to Ryan McKay hadn’t gotten them very far in their investigation. They weren’t any closer to the answer of why the trio was there, not even any closer to a way of getting rid of them either, but sometimes that’s the way the job worked. And while they hadn’t gotten anything useful on their target, they did have more on Marcus Ballard than before.

“I feel like we know less now then we did going in for some reason,” Dean muttered as they walked across the shop’s parking lot.

Sam huffed softly as he walked besides his brother, shaking his head slightly. “Maybe we got this guy wrong, Dean. Maybe Marcus Ballard is just a missing persons case and nothing more.”

Dean’s brow knit as they moved down the street toward the Impala.

“You heard the same thing I did about Ballard; he was a happily married family man with no enemies. We couldn’t even find a parking ticket on the guy,” Sam added.

“I don’t know, dude.” Dean glanced toward Sam, his tone even as he ran through a couple things in his head. “Something about this doesn’t seem right. I mean, he disappears and those things show up; that timing isn’t right, Sam.”

Sam considered his brother’s words as he approached the car, pausing as he reached the passenger door. “Think we missed something?”

“Maybe. Can’t hurt to take a look back at the notes.” Dean looked toward Sam, opening his door. “I wanna talk to that Dave Quarles guy first though. Sounds like he was the last person to see Ballard the night he vanished.”

Sam nodded, glancing down the street. “I can’t help wondering why the blonde is hanging around Ballard’s daughter.”

“Who knows with these things, Sammy,” Dean grumbled, loosening his tie. “I’ll just be glad when we can smoke the broads.”

Sam opened the Impala’s door as Dean slid behind the wheel.

The key barely touched the ignition when the peaceful afternoon air erupted with a bang, the car’s windows rattling from the sound. It was loud enough to silence the ever-present birdsong that filled the air and made the pair jump with its intensity. The sound was enough to make their breath catch as they looked for the source.

“What the hell was that?” Dean questioned.

Sam’s eyes scanned the surroundings as Dean got out from the car to look around for himself. “Whatever it is, it didn’t sound good.”

Dean squinted against the midday sun, his arm resting on the Impala’s roof as he held on to the driver’s door. His green eyes scanned the horizon for anything out of the ordinary as his ears caught the screams of sirens heading through town. He felt his stomach drop when his eyes locked on the column of black smoke rising in the air to the north.

“Son of a bitch.”

Sam swallowed as he spotted the smoke, his face clouding. “That’s not good.” He eyes moved across the car’s roof toward Dean, an edge to his voice. “You think it’s them?”

“At this point, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t.” Dean’s eyes narrowed as he watched the smoke in the distance, sinking back into the car. “Come on, Sam. We’ve got work to do.”

Sam slid in to the passenger seat, the door shutting with a loud creak as the Impala roared to life and pulled away from the curb.


Chapter 9


 

 
 
Current Mood: indifferent
Current Music: The House Rules By Christian Kane
 
 
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