Lonely This Christmas – Chapter 1

Earth – Jeffrey Chambers High School, Seattle, Washington State…

It was the week before school broke up for Christmas, and Tony Fulcher was finally starting to feel as though he fitted in. Classes were… bearable, although rather on the slow side for someone with his growing telepathic abilities, who could “download” whatever he needed to know from a willing donor mind, and any would-be bullies had by now learned that “The Coma Kid” wasn’t some brain-damaged weakling – Tony had only been “Captain Dominion” for a fairly short time, but he had still been able to pick up what one young thug, who had just had his nose bloodied, had referred to “some moves”.

Tony would have been in the running for Liar Of The Year had he said he did not miss that incredible other life. Every now and then, the urge would come over him to send his mind out into the realm between universes, then beyond to the tiny “bubble universe” of Dominion where, in an alcove of honour, in the Tower of Darkhawk on the capital world of Eyrie, there stood a statue of golden crystalline “Dominium” that would come to life when the young man’s mind took up residence there…

But Tony had promised his parents, and himself, that he was going to give real life his undivided attention, for the time being. His mother and father had been denied their child since his accident at the age of five, after which he had been in a hospital bed for more than ten years, seemingly comatose, but actually awake, trapped inside his unresponsive flesh. Tony was glad to be free of that, glad to be alive, and he could put up with his parents wishes until he had earned their permission to strike out on his own. Physically, he was sixteen years old, but for most of those he had been cut off from the world, and he still had a lot of growing up to do.

Life was… okay. Every once in a while, that other life would brush against his as he “accidentally” crossed paths with a representative of Dominion, usually at the mall, or on the way to or from school. His most frequent contact was a woman called “Sable Succubus” – dark-haired, and beautiful, with a wicked sense of humour, tinged occasionally with a sense of unease. She hated “hiding her wings”, and regularly spoke of her intense sadness at “not being able to fly around these savages…”

On this occasion, totally out of the blue, Tony almost literally bumped into the woman in the corridor, inside the school walls. “Hi there”, said the rather majestic woman, her slender form draped in a long coat of black, scaly leather. “It’s horrible outside, and I thought interfering with the weather would attract the wrong kind of attention…”

Master Fulcher…!

“You already have”, sighed Tony, looking past Sable’s shoulder and up the corridor. Approaching with determined strides was the broad, balding form of Principal Ross Lucavich, former police detective, and a formidable force for order. Tony was reminded of the great dark ash-cloud that heralded a volcanic eruption, rushing down the valley to engulf everything before it – only this force of nature came to a stop when it reached its target.

“Just what do you think you’re doing, young man?”, snarled Lucavich, glaring at Tony, then his attention swiftly switched to Sable, his gaze distinctly disapproving. “And would you care to explain why you are on school grounds, and how you got past security?”

“They were… looking the other way?”, Sable offered, sweetly. “No, wait… that sounds really dumb – who could possibly look the other way when I’m around?”

“Whatever your story is, I must ask you to leave”, said the principal. “We can’t have… people like you on the premises, being seen with our students…”

Tony cringed. Principal Lucavich had said the absolute worst thing to Sable – and now he had to pay the price.

Sable almost exploded. “People like me?“, she shrieked. “What’s that supposed to mean? Oh, I know what you’re thinking – ‘this female must be a whore‘, right?”

Tony tried to step in, but Sable was “off the leash” now. “It’s so easy to judge, isn’t it?”, she continued, barely pausing for breath. “This really isn’t the right job for you, is it – such a judgmental individual, in amongst such youthful, impressionable minds? I wonder how much damage you’ve already done…?”

Lucavich started to turn red with outrage. “Now, see here…”

There was red of a different kind in Sable’s eyes as she turned her head to stare back at the principal. A flicker of magical fire

There was a sound like the last ketchup being squeezed from the bottle. The Principal looked simultaneously horrified and surprised, then turned and hurried away, as quickly and with as much dignity as the contents of his trousers would allow, and Tony didn’t need to speculate what had happened to the man as he saw the spreading patch of wetness on the seat of Principal Lucavich’s pants.

“You did not need to do that!”, snapped Tony. “I am going to be so so much trouble!

“No, you won’t”, assured Sable. “I added an amnesia charm to the spell. When he’s all cleaned up, he won’t remember what happened. He’ll blame it on the in-house catering, I imagine. And what else was I supposed to do? A Banshee Cry, perhaps? That would have made everyone in earshot crap themselves, with no option for amnesia…”

Tony glanced up and down the corridor. There were few people around, and most were too busy wonder what had happened to the Principal to even notice that Tony had an unauthorised guest. Most, for one was looking directly at them…

Short-cut yellow hair, too much dark make-up, a black fishnet top under her white school shirt; the audience of one was a member of the school’s “goth” community, the “Dark Crowd”. Tony had seen the girl around, and he thought her name was Phoebe, but that could have been a name assumed to fit in with the clique – Tony knew for certain that one of them went by the name “Ravensoul”…

“Was – was that ‘brown noise’, or something?”, the girl murmured, gazing with unbridled admiration at Sable. “Whatever it was, it was awesome!

“Hypnosis”, Sable replied, being careful not to make things more difficult for Tony. “Amazing what you can do with a susceptible mind…”

Sable’s mind knocked on the “door” of Tony’s mental “fortress”, and he opened a “spyhole” so that she could speak to him, mind-to-mind. ***Want me to get rid of this one as well?***, she asked. ***Might be a whole bunch more embarrassing, in a skirt that short…***

“Oh, yeah”, mumbled the girl – it seemed that Sable’s tone of voice was enough. “Okay – I’ll… I’ll leave you guys alone – but I just gotta say I love that outfit…!”

The girl scurried away, seemingly afraid that the next word out of Sable’s mouth would have the same bowel-loosening effect. “Girl got taste, I guess”, sighed Sable. “Friend of yours?”

Tony shrugged. “Hardly – not my… ‘scene’”, he said, “but that girl… the number of times I turn around, or go round a corner, and she’s there. Maybe she thinks my coma put me in touch with ‘dark forces’, or I have experience with being dead… or something…”

“Oh, they’re like that, are they?”, replied Sable. “Not a good path to follow. There’re plenty of dark powers that feed on negative crap like that, and you don’t want any of that in your life, I can tell you. Still… there’s something about that girl – could be that she has some kind of talent. Psychic, maybe magical…”

“Maybe we can talk about that some other time, in some other place?“, suggested Tony. “We can’t meet at the mall, as I didn’t cycle in today, with all the talk of snow.”

“I have transport”, assured the woman in leather. “Didn’t think it was a good idea to have it parked outside. Thought it might – spirits forgive me for saying it – errr, attract too much attention.”

“It’s not a starship, is it?”

“No, no – well, it is space-flight capable…”

Tony did not doubt that for a moment when he set foot outside the school. Everything was blurred and softened by the falling snow, except for a sleek shard of purest black that refused to surrender to the blizzard, battering the snow into submission with blackness so total, it seemed to shine

The “shard” was a low-profile vehicle – Tony was reluctant to give it the mundane title of “automobile” – like a top-of-the-line sports car, but longer, more like a limousine, and the latter description certainly seemed to suit as a door near the more blunt rear opened, and welcome warmth spilled forth as Sable invited Tony to take a seat inside.

“We’re not flying anywhere, are we?”, he asked as he placed his school bag on the rear-facing seat opposite. “I didn’t exactly see any wheels.”

“There aren’t any”, Sable replied. With her coat off, she seemed a good deal more comfortable, the large bat-like wings anchored to her shoulder blades partly unfolded, flapping at the tips. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you home without any… complications.”

“Better not stop at my door”, advised Tony. “Mom and Dad will go mental if they think I’m doing anything Dominion-related behind their backs.”

“I think we can arrange to stop out of sight”, assured Sable.

“And… can we take a long route?”, requested the young man. “I have something special to ask…”

“Don’t forget what I said to your friend in there”, warned Sable, but that was meant as a joke, and Tony would never have thought that way. Something was on the young man’s mind, and it needed to be heard.

- o ( O ) o -

Two Weeks Later…
The Fulcher Family Home – Christmas Day…

Emily Fulcher ground to a halt, midway through her final preparations for Christmas dinner, as the door-bell rang, quite unexpectedly. “Ryan – get that, please?”, she called out. “If I leave this for one minute, it’s bound to boil over!”

Tony’s mother wanted everything to be perfect. This was the first time in a long time that her family had had anything to celebrate, and no-one and nothing was going to spoil it.

Ryan Fulcher knew how much his wife had put into the festive season, and he didn’t want to be the stick in the spokes of Emily’s aspirations. He paused in his duty as supervisor for thee laying the table for the big meal, and headed for the hall, and the front door, sure that Tony could not make a mess of anything…

“Errrr, Dad?”, said Tony, following hot on Ryan’s heels. “Dad, I need to talk to you…”

“Not now, son”, replied Ryan. “We have a visitor – for some crazy reason.”

Tony gulped down a mouthful of anxiety. “That was kinda what I wanted to explain…”

Ryan opened the door without responding to Tony’s curious words. Standing on the doorstep was a young woman, draped in a fine silken cloak with a hood, edged with golden embroidery, the snow boiling away into steam before it could land on her.

“Hello, Mister Fulcher”, said Brighthawk with a smile that lit up the late afternoon darkness. “Merry Christmas.”

Ryan shot a look of disbelief back at Tony, who meekly responded with “I… ah, I invited someone else…”

…to be continued…

707-01

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