I don’t even know for sure what this is part of, if anything…

I leap from rooftop to rooftop, my skirt fluttering in the wind and my twintails streaming behind me. The city beneath is quiet, at least here in the touristy parts of town. The moonlight bathes everything in eerie, fantastic silver, punctuated here and there with the almost-warm yellow glow of a streetlamp or the cycling colors of a traffic light. Buoyed by magic, I bound across the city’s rooftops almost effortlessly, scanning with preternaturally sharp eyes and ears–and other, stranger senses–for the tell-tale signs of an infarction.

Perhaps I should introduce myself. I’m Shannan, a fourteen-year-old freshman at Benjamin Banneker High, a good student at a good school. I like mythology and mint ice cream and cheerleading, though I didn’t quite make the squad. I guess I can be a bit of a klutz sometimes, and I’m kind of shy, but I do all right.

Oh, and at night I transform into Magical Pretty Girl Annan and battle the forces of the Dark Between to keep them from penetrating into this world. So there’s that.

It’s hard sometimes, and scary, and lonely, especially now that Shea and I are the only ones left. But there are advantages. Even untransformed, I heal ridiculous fast, and I’m faster and stronger. Then when I use the magic to transform, I change completely. I come out looking more like a twenty-year-old model or an actress than a random teen, all big blue eyes and five-foot-long strawberry-blonde tails and cream-colored legs and Jake Henderson would probably drool all over me if he saw it. Plus I get even stronger and even faster, so I can easily jump fifty or sixty feet straight up, I’ve got all kinds of neat magical powers for fighting infarctions–it’s a pretty great deal Shea gave me!

I leap down near the corner of 9th and F. During the day this is right on the edge between downtown offices and tourist shopping, but at this hour it’s completely deserted. I transform back and check my watch.

Not enough time to get to Metro before it closes; looks like I’m either calling a cab or walking home. Of course I don’t have my purse–I’ve learned the hard way you don’t want to bring that with you when you transform, it tends to get lost. So a cab isn’t really an option. Fortunately there’s no particularly bad neighborhoods between here and home, but still, I try to do everything the way my long-ago self-defense instructor suggested. Walk confidently, briskly but not quickly enough to look scared. Don’t get squirrely and start looking around. Stay calm, and don’t act like prey.

My self-defense instructor was basically full of shit, but at least I can pretend I’m doing something. Luckily, the closest I get to encountering another person is someone zipping past on a bicycle on the other side of the street. If you’re going to walk around the city alone at night, one o’clock on a Monday morning at the tail-end of winter isn’t a bad time to do it.

And of course, I could always just transform if I got in trouble, but I don’t like doing that if I can help it.

Regardless, after a little over half an hour of walking I’m at the door to my apartment. I open it, flick on the light, nod to the cockroaches desperately scurrying under the fridge. I’d do something about them, but I heard they eat bedbugs, so instead I occasionally make a crumb-trail from the fridge to the couch in the hopes they’ll get the hint. They haven’t yet.

“Home sweet shitpile,” I say, and flop down on the couch. I’ve learned from experience that if I let them bite me now and here, they won’t do it as much when I go to bed. I should probably eat something, but I have to get up for work in five hours. Maybe I should try to sleep instead.

Oh! I should probably introduce myself again. I’m still Shannan, thirty-four-year-old SAS application developer for a government agency (I would tell you which one, but then I’d have to be embarrassed about that not actually being grounds for killing you or even a secret at all, really). I’m also chair of our office’s branches of both BIG and FEW. I still like mythology and mint ice cream, but I never did make that squad, so for cheerleading substitute softball. And I still have that shy streak, too, but I’m not klutzy now that I’m not growing three inches in one year.

Twenty years ago I made a deal, and gained the power to become Annan. Twenty years of growing up, definitely older and hopefully wiser. College, jobs, dates here and there, a couple of boyfriends, the normal stuff, except for the whole slipping out at night to do battle as the only defender of humanity for hundreds of miles.

And in all that time, Annan hasn’t aged a day.

0 thoughts on “I don’t even know for sure what this is part of, if anything…

  1. I know how ingratiating it sounds, but it's my honest, (relatively) impartial opinion that these excerpts keep improving. The gap between this one and the fairies excerpt is a lot narrower than the previous ones, however – in fact it's possible that the fairy excerpt might edge it out narrowly. Very enjoyable nevertheless, and quickly allayed any fears I might've had that you were just working out some lessons you'd learned from “The Very Soil”. 🙂
    A little late on the commentary again, but then again you were a week late on the Fiction Friday so I think it's forgivable. Besides, I've got two pieces to offer thanks to the week delay!
    The first is a short story called “Anytime That Seemed Perfect”, named after an Ora Lerman painting hung up in the library I work at (which was apparently absent from the internet until I decided to do something about it just now). The full title of the painting is “Eden Is Anytime That Seemed Perfect”, which I think is somewhat informative. Besides the painting I had the work of science fiction authors Robert Silverberg and Thomas Disch in mind, plus the “90's kid”-variety nostalgia craze and what it might say about how the internet's changed the way we look at the past. Thomas Ligotti was also in mind again, specifically in regard to his concept of a “Spiritus Mundi” which he views as incredibly malevolent and which I'm slightly more optimistic about. It's a little weirder than “Production Lines” on the surface but I think it has a lot of heart.

    The other one is something I did for my Mythology course about an urban legend regarding Bob Dylan's “Blowin' In The Wind” being written by a high school student. It's a great story to begin with, and I think I get into some interesting stuff about what people from any generation expect to get out of having people they look up to – in that regard it's kind of related to “Production Lines”.

    Funnily enough both pieces fall back on folk/indie music for bits of their central imagery, even though I gravitate much more heavily towards dance music!

    Anyway no obligation to like it or anything, just thought it might be nice to give something in return. If you do have anything constructive to say I'd be delighted to hear it. 🙂

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