Tags: capricious, julie cox, serialized fiction
Welcome to Fox Pass, Texas, a small community where the people are friendly and the mythical creatures aren’t so mythical after all. Capricious by Julie Cox follows the adventures of satyr Luke and his fellow myth-folk in a town that borders a whole lot more than Mexico. (Do you need to start at chapter 1?)
Orson considered the spear in his lap. “Cuchulainn’s spear…. It’s strange to see it after so many years, and in such a different setting. Like seeing your kindergarten teacher in the supermarket—a collision of worlds.” He looked back up at Luke. “So you paid for the spear with some of your past life memories—that’s good, actually. Frankly I’m surprised she’d barter with you, those fae wraiths are a dangerous lot. Normally she would have just drunk you dry, or at least hung you up for later.”
“She said I had a trio or something of fae affection—a superior, a peer, and a subordinate. Or supplicant. Started with an s-u.” He pointed past Orson to Cormick in the driver’s seat. “Our illustrious leader… you… and Glen.”
Orson’s brow knit. “Glen? I didn’t know you guys were that close.”
Luke dropped his head into his hands. “We weren’t. But apparently he thought highly enough of me to leave a magical mark upon me. Makes me feel like crap, actually, that I didn’t pay him more attention.”
“You talk as if he’s already dead.”
“Well, we don’t know what’s happened to him, do we?”
“Wouldn’t his magic disappear if he were dead?” August chimed in.
“Not necessarily.” Everyone looked at Charlie, whose dour expression turned deadly serious. “Myth-folk magic can be preserved after death if certain precautions are taken. He could be dead, and the magic he worked in life still lingering, if he were magically contained.”
August narrowed his eyes at Charlie. “How would you know about that?” he asked. “What are you?”
Charlie’s hesitation was just long enough to be noticeable. “A Jersey Devil.”
“Jesus!” August bellowed, jumping back as far as his seat belt allowed.
“And you’re, what, an Easter Bunny? C’mon, none of us are exactly made of sunshine.”
“Naw. Just lightning,” Sally quipped, making explosion gestures with her hands.
“This isn’t funny!” August said. “Those things are dangerous!”
“Like dude already pointed out,” Luke said, leaning forward, “so is everyone in this car, everyone in this community. Even Allison is dangerous, when in her element.”
There was a moment in which everyone considered this. Then Cormick said, “In her restaurant?”
“No, jackass, when she’s in the water! Cripes.”
“I’m plenty dangerous!” Allison protested.
“You’re not,” Orson said, “not the way the rest of us are. Not unless we’re all swimming.”
“You guys, Allison still has hundreds of years of experience, she can swing with the rest of us,” Sally said, a line appearing between her eyes.
“Thank you!” Allison said.
“Swing what? A frying pan?” Orson griped.
“Spoken like a man who’s never been hit with one!”
“Shut up!” Cormick yelled over the din. “Gawd. You people. Focus! We are all of us scary nightmarish beings. Now August, you go first, tell us why Jersey Devils are scary, and then Charlie, you can tell us all why he’s wrong. If you all start trying to talk at once again, I will pull this car over, pick up a rock, and we’ll have to pass the rock to determine who can speak. Do you want to play Pass the Rock of Speaking?” A moment of silence passed. “Do you?”
“No,” everyone in the car muttered with a communal pout.
“Good. Now August, talk.”
August eyeballed Charlie warily. “I’ve never met one that was civilized. They’re a lot like the chupacabras, more animal than human. There are people around now who actually believe in them, so they are influenced by those beliefs. They are vicious, demonic predators. And, none of the ones I have ever met could cloak themselves in a human guise, the way we can. They are their myth-selves, and nothing else. C’mon, if you met someone who introduced himself as a chupacabra, would you trust him?”
“That’s enough, August. Interesting. Charlie, go,” Cormick said.
“When I was a child my mother contacted a magic-user. I’m sorry, I don’t know exactly what she was. She cloaked me in a myth-folk type of magic. Under its influence I became… almost human.”
Orson studied him through narrowed eyes. “You’re wearing someone else’s magic.”
“Fuck me, that’s sick.” He rubbed his eyes with his hand. “It’s like wearing someone else’s skin. A skin-changer, essentially. I might actually be sick. Cormick—”
“Swallow your imagination, Tuatha. Charlie, where did the magic come from? Or more specifically, from whom?”
“I don’t know. I was a child. And I was a Devil; I wouldn’t have cared.”
In the silence that followed, Luke looked at Sally. “He’s your friend.”
“Yes,” she said, “and I can vouch for his character. He’s not evil, Cormick. If anything his origin gives him cause to carefully monitor and consider the morality of his actions.”
“You’re the head of the Fox Pass council,” Orson said. “Cormick, you are the one who decides if he can stay or not.”
Cormick sighed. “He can stay, of course. We are none of us culpable for the actions of our parents, only for what we choose upon maturity. He’s clearly been making good choices or he wouldn’t have won Sally’s good opinion. And I already told Sally her friend could be here under her protection.”
“You didn’t ask what he was?” August snapped.
“Of course I did. Sally vouched for him then and said it was his secret to tell. Coming from a thunderbird who kept her own council on the truth of her nature for so long, I felt it appropriate. And I still feel it appropriate,” he said over the protests that began. “Hush. The boy is welcome.”
“I’m hardly a boy,” Charlie said.
August snorted. “Yeah. You’re twenty-four, right? This is your first life? You’re a boy. No one else in this car is less than three hundred.”
Charlie eyed August. “A headless horseman? You’re one to talk, Irving’s story was nineteenth century.”
“And the headless wild huntsman of European folklore is much older.” He leaned over the back of the seat a bit, menacingly. “And much more dangerous than a colonial folktale.”
“Guys, chill,” Sally said. “Can we just agree that you all have scary big cocks and get on with solving the mystery of the chupacabra-summoning bridge trolls?”
Allison laughed out loud and didn’t seem to care that no one else in the car was laughing.
Julie Cox lives in Texas with her husband, children, and ever-expanding menagerie of animals on their farm. She runs a small online yarn business, teaches yarn spinning, and is the associate editor of Gearhearts magazine. She has numerous stories published with Circlet Press and elsewhere. For her full list of published works, see her website at www.lazypifarm.com.