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?)
Luke caught up to Sally and Allison behind Brent’s house, and the three of them stopped, crouching, behind a pile of rust that was once a tractor. The backyard was a breathtaking field of chaos, full of cars, boats, bicycles, and parts for every mechanical thing ever made, all thrown haphazardly into the brush. Blackberry brambles crawled out from beneath a trio of old Triumph motorcycles, briars curtained off a stripped-down Volkswagen, and a holly bush was caught in a permanent act of exploding from within a propane gas grill, its red berries like bright embers. It looked like a mechanic’s shop long after an apocalypse. For Luke, who was as delighted with machines as a child in a Toys“R”Us, it was a macabre scene.
“This,” Luke said, “this yard—it’s an atrocity. A mechanical holocaust.”
“Focus, old man,” Allison said. “Crimes against living things first.”
“Oh God, is that a Mustang over there?”
Sally dragged Luke down behind an old Ford truck tilted onto its side. “Luke,” she said, “look me in the eye, baby. There you go. Is Brent dangerous with access to all this?”
Luke thought about what he’d seen Brent do, magically speaking, over the years. Very little, really; the tinker fae had always kept to himself. “Well, most of his magic takes a lot of prep work.”
“But for all I know, he’s done the prep work and just had to come out here to get to it.”
“That’s bad,” Allison said with a huff. She checked her phone. “Can you keep him here, keep him talking, for another ten minutes?”
“Maybe,” Luke said. “What happens in ten minutes?”
Allison grinned. “I called for reinforcements.”
“I fucking love reinforcements,” Luke said. He stood most of the way up. “Brent! Hey man, it’s Luke. What the hell’s going on, man?”
“You tell me,” Brent said. “You’re the one who’s come to take me in, apparently.”
“Well, kinda, yeah. See, I took this pipe from Alan, and hell if it didn’t look like your handiwork. Now, you know me well enough to know I’ll hear your side of it. You want to tell me what happened?”
“You’re politely ignoring Charlie getting shot in the chest,” Sally snarled softly.
“Yes I am,” he hissed back. “I’m stalling for time, remember?”
“I wish I had a good story for you,” Brent called back. “I wish they’d tortured me, or misled me. But this time, it was all about the money, man. They offered me fifteen grand. Fifteen. Thousand. Dollars! For one job. I had to take it. Luke, you know what we make in construction. I was never going to make a good life for myself on that. Anyone in my position would have done the same thing.”
Luke’s blood boiled. “You knew what they were going to do with it? Call something up to go after me?”
“I didn’t think they were going to try to kill you, or so many other folk. I thought they just wanted you preoccupied so you couldn’t interfere.”
Luke took several deep, steadying breaths. Time, he remembered. He was just stalling for time. “And here I thought we were friends,” he said.
“You sure are naïve for being two thousand years old. We all got to do the best we can with what we got. It’s not like you’ve always been Mr. Honorable, doing the right thing, looking out for everyone around him.”
“Nobody’s perfect. But I do my best.”
“Oh, sure. Like with Sally, huh?”
Luke cast a look down at Sally. “What about Sally?” he called to Brent.
“You knew I liked her, and you boned her anyway!”
Allison rolled her eyes dramatically, and Sally signed, unmistakably, that she wanted to decapitate Brent. Luke drew in a deep breath and wincingly kept the conversation going.
“I’d really like to keep Sally out of it,” he said. “What we got right now is kind of a standoff between you and me. You want to come talk to me face-to-face, or are we going to keep yelling across your backyard?”
Brent laughed. “You can come over here any time you like. But besides me to worry about, there are cottonmouths all through here.”
“Shit!” Sally hissed, jumping away from the base of the truck, brushing at her pants and boots as if batting away invisible snakes. Allison was a little more controlled, but not by much.
“Who all you got over there with you, Luke?” Brent called. “Some friends? You got Sally with you now? You’re a dumbass if you brought her with you.”
“Who’s gonna protect her if you die? Not complaining, mind you. I’d love to get a good look at her titties.”
Now all three of them wore matching homicidal expressions. Luke took a moment before answering, looking at Sally while he did so. “Brent, you are officially on my list. I’m gonna do whatever I can to bring you in. It would be nice if you were alive, but not necessary. And if it’s not me taking you down, I assure you, the others will.”
“Tell you what, man. You come blazing over here like the big billy goat gruff those trolls made you out to be, and you and me can rumble.” Brent’s voice turned to a snarl, and an ugliness came into it that Luke had never heard before. “And after I’ve put you down, I’m gonna have a good time with your girl. She might be a frigid bitch, but she’ll learn how good it can be, how much she really wants it. I’m gonna rub my dick between her tits until I jizz on her face. I’m gonna turn her over a dirty workshop table and tie her to the vices, and I’m gonna fuck her till I come in her, then I’ll fuck her with a vibrator till I’m ready to fuck her again. Maybe up her ass, too. I’m gonna make her like it, Luke. I’m gonna make you look like a bad prom lay.”
As Brent spoke, the three myth-folk crouched behind the Ford reached a decision without exchanging a word. Anger drained away; such emotions were too reckless, too chaotic, for what they had to do. They turned cold, deliberate, as careful and deadly as spiders. This was not about vengeance, or betrayal, or outrage. This was putting down a threat, the pesky stray who’d taken a snap at a child, the garden snake who rose and struck with a spread hood, the beehive with an African queen. This was no longer an attack. This was extermination.
Allison checked her gun, made sure her spare clip was ready at hand, and looked up and down the yard for paths of cover. Luke took Sally’s hand and squeezed it.
“Brent,” Luke said, “I hope you have a better life next time around, because this one’s over.”
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.