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?)
Somewhere beyond the nymph-induced bliss that rode roughshod over Luke’s mind, there was a tiny, screaming remnant of his psyche that understood what was happening. That distant bit of consciousness looked out of his eyes but could not speak, or move, or stop. The rest of him, like August and Orson, was wholly engulfed by Mae’s magic. He had never seen her cut loose to this extent; on an intellectual level it was an impressive show of power, but one he wouldn’t appreciate until later.
He heard the scuff of boots behind him, and a rough hand grabbed one of his horns. The troll jerked Luke’s head back, exposing his throat, and Luke could do nothing but stare up at the snarling, stonelike face. It was granite gray with blue and white lines of marbling and the pockmarked texture of old tombstones. The troll held a knife—one of Sally’s mother’s good kitchen knives, a thin, sharp blade for filleting fish. He lowered it to Luke’s throat.
“You damned satyr,” the troll snarled, his tongue thick in his mouth. “It was never supposed to be like this. We just wanted our toll—at this portal and all the others. It’s our right once more to claim the bridges as we choose—not that the rest of the myth-folk understand that.”
Luke’s body moved on its own; he rubbed against the troll’s legs, his skin aching for any contact. Inside he wanted to scream, enraged and horrified at how Mae’s magic—which he had seen used in beautiful and wondrous ways in the past—twisted him, and Orson, and August, and most likely Mae herself. Even with a knife at his throat, he could not stop stroking his cock. It wasn’t enough; he wanted to fuck, and be fucked, repeatedly, roughly, it didn’t matter who, or how. Mae was drinking in his sexual energy, siphoning him. If it went on, there was no telling what he might do, and she would drink him dry.
She’d done it before.
Not that he had to worry about that, not with a sliced throat in his near future. What little was left of Luke’s mind howled, fought frantically for any scrap of control, but there was none to be had. Dying was not the worst part. There would be another life for him, as there always had been, and this one would be just another memory to sift through, a life to hang up and strip for parts. It wasn’t even the painfully close miss with Sally. No, the worst part was the helplessness, watching it come with no way to stop it and knowing that Sally was watching. She was going to watch him and their friends die while he pleasured himself in thrall to a nymph, before she was killed herself. That moment would be a thorn in his immortal side long after his body’s bones turned to dust, and he did not want to live with it forever after.
The troll went to cut him once, twice, and stopped. He shifted his grip and spoke again, as if using his opportunity for monologue to delay the act of violence. “It was supposed to be just you! But now—now everyone here has to die, and the others who found out, and anyone else who looks into it. All because you, this one old goat, wouldn’t fucking die!”
The troll moved once more as if to slice Luke’s throat, and stopped. Luke watched a war wage in the troll’s eyes and understood in a startling moment of clarity—he had been trying not to kill anyone, and now that he perceived he had no choice, he wasn’t able to make himself do it. He raised the knife high, his eyes locked with Luke’s. Luke wondered, as seconds stretched on with the knife poised in the air, teetering as if on a thin edge, if a reluctant murderer was really any better than an enthusiastic one; the troll’s guilt would not make any difference to his victims.
Everyone spooked as a gunshot fired at close range—then another, and another. Luke and the troll looked up past Mae, August, and Orson to where the other troll had a gun on Sally and Charlie. That troll was now on the ground writhing in pain, and Charlie wrestled him for his gun. Now that the threat was removed from her friend, Sally raised her bound wrists, fingers held as wide as she could. A net of electricity coalesced around her, crackling with blue-white fire. A fierce snarl split her face; it was a very avian look, full of hate and uncompromising intent.
“Hadouken, motherfucker!” she screamed, and a lightning bolt arched through the air to hit the troll standing behind Luke. Charlie rushed past her, the gun now in his hand, and closed on Mae. He raised the sawed-off shotgun to shoulder level. Luke couldn’t help but notice he was holding it totally wrong; it wasn’t even cocked. If the gun had a safety, it was probably on, and if he managed to fire it, the kickback would knock his teeth in.
“On your knees!” Charlie barked at Mae, as if attempting to sound intimidating, but the break in his voice betrayed his terror. “Let them go!”
Mae only smiled and raised her hand. “I think not,” she said. “You’re a pretty one. Come join us. You haven’t known pleasure till you’ve surrendered to a nymph.” Luke felt the magic uncoiling from her like a serpent, reaching for him, tendrils of powers looking to penetrate him and master him.
Charlie’s face contorted in confusion, then lapsed into annoyance. He darted in, swung the shotgun around, and clocked her in the temple. She fell to the ground, too shocked to say a word.
Charlie raised the butt of the shotgun. “Your wiles don’t work on me, bitch, I’m gay!” he said before slamming her on the head with the gun again. This time, she was out.
And her victims were free. For the first time in many lifetimes, Luke was in a rush to close up his pants. So too were August and Orson, though Orson did so as he knelt to pick up Mae, cradling her limp body to him. August stumbled backward and found a corner to slump into, his pretty blue eyes wide with horror. Luke had just enough time to observe that it took a lot to rattle a headless horseman when Sally barreled into him and knocked him flat on his back in the dirt.
“You dumbass!” she shrieked while she kissed him repeatedly. “Putting your guns down for us—we all could’ve been killed—”
“Ow,” Luke said. He managed to sit up and gave her a firm and resounding kiss as punctuation. A large part of him would have been interested in a literal roll in the hay at that moment, if not for spectators, but Mae’s magic had left him with a lingering nausea like seasickness or morning sickness. Strange, he thought, the memories that stayed, the sensations that never faded. With Sally’s help, he rose up on shaking limbs, and together, they towered over the troll that had almost destroyed him.
“No more kitchen knives, huh?” Luke said. “Pity. I got a whole houseful. Let’s you and me have us a little talk.”
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 and teaches yarn spinning. She has numerous stories published with Circlet Press and elsewhere. For her full list of published works, see her website at www.lazypifarm.com.