Short Story 25

Miles

Miles was always someone who knew from a very young age exactly what he wanted to do with his life. Not in the way kids would run around saying they wanted to be doctors, or astronauts, or soldiers, but in a true and defining quality that he felt deep within his bones and in every part of his being.

He wanted to play music, and from the moment he picked up the guitar he always had the strings between his fingers. He would practise every day until his fingers bled and callouses no longer offered protection. Pushing through the pain, he knew someday he would get to a platform where he could share his music with the world.

Singing was a natural progression, he was already doing it while writing songs, and before Miles had realised what had happened, he had his own sound as a singer-songwriter. But things were getting worse at home and he found it increasingly difficult to play. His straight-edged father and mother frowned upon a career choice that offered little stability, and wanted him to take over the family business.

Because of the pressures at home, before he turned eighteen Miles left for nowhere in particular. He just wanted to do his own thing and succeed at it. The music industry was where he wanted to be, and with his name slowly moving from underground to mainstream and a few broken guitars later, Miles thought he had finally made it.

But his family were always on a different page, hell they were in a different book. They were reluctant to ever congratulate him on his riches and fame, instead offering only visible disappointment and animosity. He could never understand why his parents were so insistent he followed in their footsteps. The whole point of being an adult was to be a productive member of society, going to your nine-to-five to pay the bills. But if you got a chance to spend the rest of your life doing something you absolutely loved, you should be bending over backwards to get it.

As a guest on late night talk shows and performing for thousands of people at a time, Miles was living the high life. One day he was at an event for the launch of a new brand of alcohol, and somewhere right between the vodka and an impressive amount of candy his world shattered into a million pieces.

The power went out, the silence a harsh opposition to the loud music and conversations. Miles watched the room darken despite it being early afternoon, with the giant floor-to-ceiling windows turning black from the outside right before his eyes. As people whispered and gasped, the clinks of metal cans spraying a smoky haze into the room made him feel unsteady and as he began to stumble he suddenly felt uneasy as though his life wasn’t his anymore.

Miles thought that the fact he was in the public spotlight would have warranted explanation, but it didn’t. He was grabbed, thrown in a van and drugged until he woke up not in some dungeon or abandoned warehouse, but in the middle of a clearing in a forest. It felt like no one cared that he was gone like nobody had any idea he had even been taken. But Miles only thought about that and the fact he seemed to be the only person abducted from a room full of celebrities for a few seconds…he was more concerned about the people in robes chanting and drinking blood.

At first he thought this was some elaborate prank until they started cutting him and cauterising the wounds with an iron rod. He would pass out and wake to the same process over and over again – an agony that would repeat until they had what they wanted.

The strange thing was, this torment was all in his head. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. He didn’t know what was real anymore, because when Miles would pass out from the pain in the cold forest with his screams accompanied by streams of mist, he would wake up trapped in a room.

Room was probably an overstatement. He was in a shipping container that was buried perpendicular in the ground, so there was about twelve meters to daylight and to escape.

This unlike the forest was, or at least seemed, like an incredibly strenuous and long kind of torture. For what felt like weeks, he no food, no water, no light and no bathroom. He just sat huddled in a corner trying to concentrate on making his teeth stop chattering.

Miles felt like he was turning into a husk from which his mind yearned to wander. When he thought about it long and hard one day, he came to the conclusion that maybe this was the real torture and the forest was the hallucination, but he could never be entirely certain.

Miles vaguely remembered seeing the doors close above him, and his broken arm and bruised rib cage, which he assumed were from being dropped into this metal box, definitely felt real. But how was he still alive?

Time felt like it passed differently in each place. The clearing felt too fast, and the shipping container too slow. Months could’ve been days, or minutes, or seconds until one day he opened his eyes to an endless plain of pure white and he welcomed the numb feeling that overcame him. Maybe it was all over? Maybe he had finally died and this was the afterlife?

Of course it turned out to just be his eyes playing tricks on him. They weren’t used to the fluorescent lights of the medical room he was in. Miles realised quickly that he wasn’t in a normal hospital. Through the reflection of the mirror opposite him, he saw that he was suspended, naked in some sort of cylinder, unable to move, unable to speak. There were wires and tubes attached to different parts of his body.

He couldn’t feel anything but could tell he was in some sort of liquid because his vision was slightly obscured. Miles wasn’t even sure if he was breathing, or if his heart was beating, he just knew he was conscious. He was certain the clearing and shipping container weren’t real because his mind now felt like his mind was his again, like chains had been lifted.

Miles let his eyes focus on what was right in front of him, when suddenly a body came crashing through the mirror sending pieces of glass across the room. He watching as a woman carrying a glowing metal blade climbed over the opening and stabbed the man lying on the ground in the heart.

All he could do was watch, but Miles felt like he had to help this girl, like he somehow knew her. She ran to the side of the tank Miles was in and started pulling power lines out from the circuit board. Two more men wielding daggers started attacking the girl who was holding her own effortlessly.

Miles started to get feeling back in his body, and just as he moved his hand to touch the glass, the girl threw a device that suctioned onto the glass. He watched as a pattern of cracks began to spread, and shock spread through him because he realised the force at which he was going to be thrust out of the tank.

When the glass shattered and the water explosion propelled Miles onto the floor, he coughed and gasped for air. His skin had welts where the tubes and wires had been, but what he also realised was that he still had the broken arm from the shipping container and the countless cauterised wounds in between the welts.

The girl straightened after she slammed the last guy’s head into a metal table. She walked over to the broken window she had smashed her way through, reached over and grabbed a duffle bag. Throwing it at Miles from across the room, she said, “The things I do for family. I’m Callie, but there will be time for greetings later. Put those on and hustle because they’ll be more where these losers came from.”

Miles was still focusing on breathing but complied as quickly as he could. Once he pulled the shirt over his head they were moving through the hallways silently. Callie was following a map on her phone which led them to a tunnel. A few minutes of stealth later and the two of them were standing in front of a motorcycle half covered by branches and leaves.

He hadn’t said a word the entire way and Miles decided now was as good a time as any and asked, “Family?”

Callie started laughing, “Oh, I forgot. Your parents didn’t want to tell you about the family business. I mean sure they tried to protect you by hiding, changing your name, not communicating with the rest of the family, and of course trying to stop you from being in the spotlight and taking over, what is it, a family lawyer business, which they clearly failed at on all counts. But they really should have trained you so you would have a fighting chance. To answer your question, yes, we’re family, cousins actually. The same blood that runs in me runs in you.”

See, for generations the O’Connell line were the ones responsible for hunting the small faction of Faerie who deviated from the collective. Callie, and Miles for that matter, were both from that family. Those corrupted by the darkness didn’t steal babies or turn crops bad like the legends portrayed. No, the truth was much darker, the kinds of things that were so terrifying the ancestors tried to diminish their power through embellishing the truth and making up rumours that they hoped would become truths.

The dark Faerie were known as Tromluí, the nightmare. They were sadistic killers that had no real preference for man, woman or child. There were no changelings or evil creatures that lay in place of stolen babies, just souls born from the depths of hell. They could twist a person’s mind, make them insane, but the problem was they looked like any Tom, Rick or Joe.

Above all else, they coveted the blood of the O’Connell line, the blood of the Cocidius. But what they also needed was a memory locked away deep inside, passed down for generations of O’Connell’s. It was a location, a map, to a weapon that could only be activated by the righteous blood and could corrupt everyone on the planet.

The problem was, Miles in the middle of his torture had accidently given them more than they needed to find the weapon. It wouldn’t be long before the depths of evil came gallivanting to the surface, and with barely any time to find the weapon first, Callie and Miles had to send out the call to arms for all living Cocidius to find the weapon and defend the humans at all costs.

By Naomi Eleanor

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