Welcome to Capricious by Julie Cox, a Texan tale of love and magic. NSFW.
A new chapter appears every Tuesday. This week is Chapter Forty-Five. Listen to the audio version at Nobilis Erotica here!
Alan didn’t look like a cop anymore. He’d left his police cruiser in the grass; his uniform was shredded into a tattered rag that clung to his body, stony as the others, dark and sharp like dull obsidian. He showed a jagged mouth full of teeth to Luke as the satyr stepped out of Sally’s house and crossed the front porch, rifle at ease but ready. The body of the troll who had been shot still lay in the yard.
“I felt my brother go,” Alan said, barely restrained. He went down on all fours, a spectral nightmare stalking through Sally’s mother’s pink rosebushes. Petals dropped around him as he brushed against them, clearly counting on the cover to keep Luke from getting a good shot. “And now I find you here…. You and your whore.”
“Give the girl a ranged weapon,” Orson said.
“She is a ranged weapon,” Luke answered.
“My precision sucks,” Sally admitted, unruffled by the insult. “Get him closer.”
Luke returned his attention to the troll. “Can’t say I’m too sorry about your brother. He had a gun on my friends. You might say he had it coming. What now?”
“I leave with his body.”
“Now that I take exception to.”
“Surrender now, and I won’t hurt your friends.”
“Funny,” Luke said, bringing the rifle to his shoulder and stepping back into a firing stance, “but this ain’t the first time you lot have made that particular sorry offer. So far it hasn’t worked out so well for you.”
“The goblin is dead,” the troll snarled. “He swore loyalty to you, and spit in my face. Love for you has already cost one person his life.”
“And the other council members?”
“They were not able to see reason, when they discovered our plans. Unfair, unfeeling for the plight of our kind.”
“Yeah, can’t say I’m feeling much sympathy myself. So we weren’t the only ones looking into what was going on, and they wouldn’t be bribed or threatened into silence,” Luke said. “Good to know. Tell you what, I’ll make you a similar deal: you call off your chupacabras, take your dead with you, don’t pursue this tolling-the-portals business anymore, and I, in return, won’t hunt your asses down and put your heads up on spikes. Because that’s my current plan.”
“Fool,” Alan spat. “Let it be death for you all!”
He pulled something out of his pocket and blew into it. A shrill warble in a minor key sounded from it. A swarm of chupacabras left the surrounding brush and swept forward, over and under the fence, across the lawn and the gravel drive, to attack en masse.
They were horrid beasts, now that Luke saw them in the light. Their too-thin bodies were corded with muscle that knotted and rippled under loose folds of naked, mottled flesh. Spikes jutted from their backs at odd angles, less like reptilian spines than mutated, cutaneous growths, like antlers gone wrong. Their faces were hideous, contorted, all mouth and black, bugging eyes, their toothy maws open and screaming, two enormous forward fangs jutting out. Their hands–for they were hands, opposable thumbs and all–ended in long claws for burrowing, and their feet were the same, churning up the earth as they charged.
Great, Luke thought, I’m going to be sucked dry by a demonic armadillo. At least when the fairy bitch drank me, I got something out of it.
A glimmer of an idea sparked in Luke’s mind. He sighted down the barrel of the rifle and backed up to the front door. “Let one through,” he said to Sally and Orson, who fanned out to the sides of the porch. He and Orson began to fire, and Sally’s lightning split the air into a million jagged bits of white fire.
They agreed without speaking on which one to let through. A small beast headed straight up the porch steps, and all three of them let it. As it reached him, Luke spun to the side, dropped to his knees, and yanked its legs out from under it. He dropped his weight on top of it to hold it down. Instantly his chest was a world of hurt. Spines or antlers, the hard bits on the chupacabra’s back were not fun to land on.
It swung its head around, surprisingly dexterous, and sank its fangs into Luke’s upper arm, but Luke had handled enough livestock in this life and in others to know how to deal with a pissed animal. He got his knee on its neck and loosed his arm from its bite. Beating back his terror of the thing that squabbled and screamed beneath him, he reached into his pocket–he was still wearing the same pair of pants from last night, when he’d returned from Tír na nÓg–and pulled out the dog collar he’d taken from the dais.
Funny, he thought as he secured it around the chupacabra’s neck, how a dog collar from several hundred years ago was still recognizable. It was made out of braided leather instead of nylon and was secured by a set of knots instead of a metal buckle, but a collar it was, complete with a little loop onto which to fasten a leash. The chupacabra grew still beneath him, watching him with its great, flat black eyes.
“Yeah, you’re collared all right,” he growled down at it. “I’m gonna send you back down the throats of the trolls, and hell’s gonna follow with you.”
Luke stood up and held the chupacabra aloft, now hanging limp as a rag. The rest of the chupacabras saw and backed away, hesitation and doubt quelling their enthusiasm for blood. “I don’t know what this does,” Luke yelled, “but it came from Faerie so it’s sure to be hell to deal with! You want to attack me, call off your demons and attack me yourself, you dumbass sumbitch!”
Alan was surprisingly fast. Luke backpedaled, yelping in surprise, as Alan crossed the yard in two bounds and slammed into him. They fell to the porch, grappling each other. The chupacabra fell to the side, momentarily forgotten. The troll rolled so Luke was on top–it would be difficult for Orson and Sally to attack, especially while the few remaining chupacabras were still looking for a piece of them–and gripped Luke’s throat in one enormous stone hand. The hand began to close. Luke struggled, threw himself backward, wrenched from side to side, to no effect. He couldn’t get air, couldn’t fill the burning emptiness in his lungs. He beat at the troll beneath him, but it may as well have been bird wings on a mountain. The world began to get very dark, very fast.
There was a thick-sounding thunk, metal cutting into wood. It was jarring how fast the commotion stopped. Fighting and screaming and violence everywhere, then everything went still and silent. The hand around Luke’s throat wavered, and he drew in one enormous, wonderful breath while his attacker hesitated. His vision cleared; a wooden pole stood straight up, right in front of his eyes. He looked down. The pole went through the middle of Alan’s chest, but there was no blood. Alan’s hand fell away. He stared unseeing at the ceiling of the porch, still breathing, still blinking. Luke scrambled backwards and almost fell down the steps.
“What the hell–”
“Cuchulainn’s spear,” Orson said.
Luke registered at last that Orson wasn’t holding the big black spear. Alan screamed and arched upward, moving his body up the pole. Both Sally and Luke screamed with him; Luke scrambled up and stepped in front of Sally, and she clutched at his back. Only Orson had the presence of mind and fortitude to pull Alan up and off the great spear, letting it exit out through his back, the only way its ferocious barbs would allow. The spear stayed upright, lodged in the old decking of the porch. Orson dropped Alan, who howled and clutched at his chest–but there was no wound. They all abruptly stopped screaming; their horror and misery had turned to confusion. Alan looked pleadingly at them.
He didn’t look like a troll anymore. The stone façade of spirit that lived beneath his human self was gone.
“I don’t remember,” he said, pawing at Sally’s leg. “My lives–I don’t remember…. Give me my lives back! Hundreds of years….” He felt for his horns, his teeth, his arms and face. He looked frantically among them, and then his face twisted up and he launched himself at Orson. “Give them back to me!”
Luke stood, a horrified expression on his face. “Did that spear… just make him completely human? Mortal?”
“Looks that way,” Orson said. He and Luke exchanged a look. Fear was contagious.
Sally caught it next. “Holy shit,” she said, her voice breaking, “we can die.” She looked down at Alan, at the last life of a very old troll whose myth-folk self had been slain. “We can die for real, forever. Oh, God, we killed him.”
Alan made no move to protect himself. He curled up on his side with his face in his hands and wept.
* * *
About the author: Julie Cox is the author of Chasing Tail and numerous short stories in Circlet Press erotica anthologies. She 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.
Welcome to Fox Pass, Texas, a small community where the mythical creatures aren’t so mythical after all. Satyr Luke’s comfortable routine is thrown into disarray when he becomes the target of enemies who won’t hesitate to hurt his friends to get to him. Struggling to save his town—and to sort out his feelings for his friend Sally—Luke faces the adventure of a lifetime in Julie Cox’s Capricious.
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