New Serial Fiction! Introducing “Wraith and Ruin”

Hello, lovelies! I’m baaaack!

via GIPHY

And even better, I have ALL NEW stuff for you. Urban fantasy. Serial fiction. Going back to my roots and DAMN it feels good. We’ll have a new installment of this every Friday, with bonus installments if I find myself really going on this. This has been a blast already, and I love writing serial fiction so much. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am! So without further ado…

Chapter One

Serena

Some people think it’s only the truly desperate who sell their souls to a demon. Sometimes, that’s true. The life of a loved one hangs in the balance, and they’d give anything, including their own life, to save them.

Most of them though? They’re just greedy shits with delusions of grandeur.

And when time comes to pay the piper, surprise surprise, those same greedy shits have a hard time letting go of the charmed life they have thanks to their deal with a devil.

That’s where I come in.

“In fact, you promised Mr. Donnelly fortune and women galore, did you not?” I asked the demon I had trapped in my circle. He was beautiful. They all are. He paced back and forth, shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s a very simple question.”

“I did but—“

“No. No buts. You know how this works just as well as I do, Namaloth. Demons can’t lie. Now we both know it wasn’t an intentional lie, that you made your deal with Mr. Donnelly in good faith. No one denies that.” My voice was soft, sincere. Demons love flattery. I crossed my arms over the front of my red blazer, ached for this to be over so I could go home and kick off the stilettos. “But the fact is that while he may very well be rich as sin, the man isn’t exactly turning the women away, is he?”

“Have you seen the fucker? Even I can’t make that happen!” He clamped his mouth shut, and I hid a smile.

Gotcha. It had been seventeen hours. We’d gone through a whole day and most of a night before I’d finally worn him down enough.

“So you admit that he has not, in fact, received what was promised to him through your deal?”

Namaloth’s head fell forward in defeat. He muttered something.

“What was that?” I tilted my head, lifting a hand to my ear.

“I release Mr. Donnelly from his oath,” he said clearly, red goat-like eyes glowing in irritation for a moment. Then he laughed. “I’d heard about you. Swore I’d be ready if you ever came for me. I can’t even tell how you did that.”

I shrugged and smiled at him. “Good at my job. You have your thing, I have mine.”

“Apparently so,” he said, giving me a small bow, his dark hair falling over one eye. “I hear you like to spend some time in Hell every now and again. Is that true, Wraith?”

“When the mood strikes.”

His eyes traveled my body. My fluffy size 18 body, packed into a corset that made my tits look miraculous. Not for the demons, but for me. Makes me feel good. Blood red suit custom-tailored for my body, matching stilettos on my feet. 

“Well. If the mood strikes anytime soon, I spend a lot of time in Lust,” he said, his deep voice taking on a tone mostly meant for bedrooms. “I hear you spend some time there too.”

I smiled. “True enough. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“Damn, I hope so.”

I chuckled, then winked at him. “Soon.” Then I said the words that would release him from the circle, and he gave me another small bow before disapparating. 

Which left me… here. At a crossroads in the middle of fucking nowhere just before dawn. I walked to the side of the road where my little black sexy-as-sin Porche Turbo was parked, pulling my phone out of my bag as I slid into the plush leather driver’s seat.

“I felt it. Something snapped!” the voice on the other end of the line said, words seeming to tumble out of his mouth.

“Yeah. Congratulations, Mr. Donnelly. I’ve won you a long life. Make sure to send my bonus today.” I started the car and started driving along the dirt road, glad it was nearing dawn. These roads were a bitch to navigate in the pitch black of night.

“Yes Wraith— I mean, Ms. Kazinski.” The near fear in his voice when he caught himself made me smile. 

“Looking forward to it. Pleasure doing business with you. I’ll look for my money in the next few hours.” I hung up, pulled onto the highway, and floored it, navigating the rural Michigan highways smoothly. I could do this shit in my sleep at this point if I wanted to.

An hour and a half later, just as the sun was edging over the horizon, I was on the elevator to my penthouse in downtown Detroit. 

Getting people out of their deals with the devil pays fucking fantastic, if I do say so myself. And if they can’t pay, well… they made the deal. Not my problem. All those years of law school, plus my unnatural affliction, had both ended up working in my favor.

I got them off on technicalities. Found the smallest chip in the normally-binding deals they’d made, and exploited it for all it was worth. In the case of the very lucky (and wealthy, which was why he’d been able to hire me) Mr. Donnelly, that technicality had been all the women he wanted. 

Thing was, a couple years after he made that deal, Mr. Donnelly had finally felt comfortable admitting to himself, and to others,  that he swung both ways, with a preference for men. So… yeah. He wasn’t spending any nights alone, but it wasn’t with women, at least not in the last few years.

And demons, no matter what else they can and can’t do, can’t lie. It’s a weakness I’m more than happy to exploit whenever the need hits. And it hits about four times a year, on average. Keeps me living a millionaire lifestyle. I take the cases I know i can win, from clients who can pay an obscene amount. 

Soulless bitch. I know what people think of me, those who know what I can do. Who know that I turn away most people who ask for help. As if calling me what is only the truth can possibly hurt me. I am a bitch. And I am completely soulless.

We can thank my mother for that. And I do mean thank. I wouldn’t have this life if I had a soul to worry about. My mother, a bitch in her own right, used the soul of her newborn daughter in a spell that would give her everlasting beauty. The spell was supposed to end me completely ( a daughter she never wanted) and give her what she actually did want, but my mother fucked up the casting somehow and, though she got what she wanted, I was left alive. Alive, but, as several practitioners and a few demons told her, and then me, utterly soulless.

Which is why there’s no danger to me in working with demons, in risking pissing them off. Which is why I’m not worried about my soul ending up in Hell. Once I’m gone, I’m gone. 

It’s also why I can spend time in Hell when I so choose. And I wouldn’t want to go there as a soul, but the demons? Those bastards live it up. I mean, I guess that if I can go to Hell, I can go to the other place too, but anyone who knows me knows that’s no place for me and I have no interest anyway. I mean, what the fuck do they do there? Sit around playing euchre and watching Leave It To Beaver reruns?

I strolled into my apartment. “Dim lights,” I murmured, and the lights lowered to a serene, sultry level. “Fireplace,” I added, and the gas fireplace kicked on. I shed my stilettos, suit, corset, bra, and panties as I strolled through the penthouse, pouring myself a glass of Dom before heading back into the living room and curling up on my plush black velvet sofa.

“Another job well done,” I said, raising my champagne flute to myself. I grinned and drank it, reveling in the crisp, perfect flavor of the champagne, letting images of tonight’s demon linger in my mind. I smiled and finished the champagne, setting the glass down, then lying back on the sofa, my hands squeezing my breasts, then caressing down my body, my fingers finding the silky wetness between my thighs. I bit my lip and moaned, my fingers working as I thought of the fun Namaloth had promised.

Yeah. Definitely time to spend some time in Lust. 

***

Jack

I tossed the 22 back into the beaten up duffel bag in the bed of my truck, zipping it up and then closing the truck box, locking it tight. I held a hand to my shoulder, then jumped off the bed and dug my first aid kit from under the front seat.

God damned vampires. This one had taken a chunk out of me before I’d finally gotten her. When I’d first started this, crap like this had kept me awake for days, hell even weeks on end. Now…well now I’d tape myself up and find the first cheap motel to pass out in. And then it would be back on the road for me. 

The good thing is, vampires are rare. The even better news is, most of those that are still alive just want to be left the hell alone to live in peace. They take themselves out to rural areas, the woods, or the desert, and live off of animal blood and live otherwise normal lives. But every once in a while, you get one who’s read a little too much Anne Rice and goes full Lestat, and they have to be put down. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s another vampire who calls it in to me.

I mean. I’m not hard to find. “Jack Wayburn, Monster Hunter.” I’m listed everywhere, even have a Facebook business page. Most of the crap I get is a joke, and it’s easy to tell when someone thinks I’m a joke too. But I get my share of serious calls, and I go where the job takes me.  It’s the only thing I’m good at, and I’m needed, so it’s enough. Most of the time, anyway.

“Thank you again… I wish there was something more we could give you.” The elderly woman and her husband, and her daughter, who’d been held captive by this particular vamp, all stood next to my truck watching me.

I shook my head. “Just doing my job. I’m glad you’re okay,” I said to the daughter. Claire. A medical assistant in a nearby women’s clinic. Claire nodded, still shaking. She’d be having nightmares for a while. Maybe forever.

“Can I help take care of that?” Claire asked, gesturing to my shoulder. I waved it off, fear slithering through me at even the thought of someone touching me. 

“I can handle it. Thanks though,” I said, taping a gauze pad over the bite. At least contain the bleeding till I got to the motel and could do more. 

They looked at each other, then the mother held out a Tupperware container. “Will you at least take these? I was baking up a storm while you were out looking for her, not knowing what else to do with myself.”

I smiled and took the container, bowing my head to her. “That, I can do. And thank you.”

They smiled at me and I set the container on my passenger seat and climbed in. “Take care.” I pulled my truck off the side of the road and onto the highway, leaving them watching me, becoming specks in my rearview before I took the curve leading to the interstate.

Muffins, cookies. The people who called for help often didn’t have much more to give than that, or a night on their sofa, or a hot dinner. Sometimes I asked for a shower. It was enough. Every once in a while I got someone who could pay actual money, and those jobs kept me in gas money and ammo. It’s not the type of business you do to get rich. At least, not for me. And the few who do seem to make money doing this don’t seem to last long. It’s easy for the shit we hunt to trap them. Promise a big pay day, lure the hunter, end the danger. We’ll just say, there’s not a lot of competition for jobs. There are more than I can handle, but I do what I can.

It’s not enough. I know that.

Twenty minutes later, I pulled into a motel just off the interstate, paid for a room, and grabbed both my duffel bags and the container of baked goods out of my truck. I got in my room and turned on all the lights, then quickly sprinkled black salt across the doorway, the windows, and taped some over any vents. 

I know. I know. I’m paranoid. It’s why I’m still alive. 

Once everything was as secure as i could make it, I went to the bathroom to properly care for my wound. I pulled off my shirt and removed the bandage, grimacing as the gauze stuck to the wound. 

Yeah, it was a good one. I shook my head as I cleaned it. Not deep, but she’d taken a chunk out of me. I cleaned it, then smeared antibiotic ointment over it, then applied a fresh bandage. At least she’d bitten above the protective sigils on that arm. An inch lower and I’d have had to have my ink redone, and tattooist witches aren’t exactly cheap. At least, not the ones who know what they’re doing.

I washed up more, then went back to the main room and grabbed the Tupperware, plopping down on the bed. I opened it to find several types of cookies, some banana muffins, and brownies. I’d eat a few days off of this. I’d have a sugar high when I was done with it all, but it’d be worth it.

While I ate, i checked my voicemail as well as the messages to my email and to my Facebook page. Mostly bullshit, which I deleted. A few things that could be something. I got up, got some shitty coffee from the lobby, then came back and ate and drank it while I did some research on the few that didn’t look outright like crap. Poltergeist near Des Moines. I had a buddy out that way who could take it. I sent it to him. Weird goings on in southern Mississippi. Sounded like a brownie, but could be something else. 

This one in Detroit, though. There was this old abandoned market in what used to be a Polish neighborhood. Ran since the late 1800’s, closed down after a car plant effectively killed the neighborhood. Sat empty for almost thirty years. It had since been bought and the new owners were trying to get the market started up again, revitalize the area. Weird shit had been happening, including a few violent confrontations with something that couldn’t be seen. And one of the owners had just gone missing. Police weren’t being helpful, writing it off as a former addict going off on a bender, but the woman’s friends weren’t buying it. They sounded desperate.

I looked at my screen some more, at satellite and street-level images of the area in question. It looked depressing. Down-trodden. The area around the market was almost totally empty in Google street view, tall grass and trash piled around. Newer photos on the market’s fancy new social media showed that they’d painted and cleaned up the site, keeping most of the old details but making it look more welcoming than it probably had even back in the day, with large flower beds surrounding the market, areas set up with new picnic tables along two sides. 

I shook my head. Old sites like that, you have to be careful messing with. All kinds of shit could be tied to it.

Looked like I was heading to the Motor City.

 

Copyright Colleen Vanderlinden. All rights reserved.

Can’t wait to hear what you think of our new story! If you enjoyed this and want to support my work, you can buy me a Ko-Fi or support me on Patreon. Thank you!

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