The Equalizer: You Better Watch Out

the children were nestled all snug in their beds

Krampus put his paw around my throat. He raised his other arm up, claws balled up into a fist.

WHUMP!

Everything went white again. I couldn’t see out of my left eye anymore.

Black smoke, golden light and hellfire flared up in the space behind my eyes. They filled me up, from the top of my head to the soles of my feet.

The pain faded.

WHUMP!

Goat Boy was so busy kicking my ass he didn’t notice the black smoke that rose up from my fingers and toes.

WHUMP!

I felt a mild thump outside as he hit me, light pinches inside as the snakes bit into me.

WHUMP!

No pain.

I lifted my head, stared Krampus in the eyes. Goat Boy froze. He stared at me wide-eyed. I winked pitch black, flashes of gold and red at him.

“NO NO NO!”

Yes yes yes. Bitch.

What was inside me came out. I turned into a huge coil of thick black smoke that twisted up into the air.

Krampus grabbed at me with his claws. Dumbass. I slipped right through.

Those raggedy clothes of mine slid off the roof. I didn’t care. Didn’t need ’em. They were tangled up with the damn snake chains. Their jaws opened and closed but they couldn’t hold me either. Once I smoked out the clothes and the chains slid down the roof into the snow. I heard the rattle of the chains as they slithered up Goat Boy’s legs and disappeared underneath his robe.

Once I shifted I saw everything in black and white, like night vision, but the tint was reddish gold instead of green. The center was clear and sharp; the edges were blurry. Goat Boy’s yellow eyes glowed bright white.

I didn’t have vocal chords, but that didn’t stop me from messing with the bastard. “What’s the matter, darlin’, don’t you love me anymore?”

The look of shock on his butt fugly face was priceless.

I’d just busted my smoke essence cherry and I liked it. I liked it a lot. I wanted more, but I didn’t have time to sightsee. I had work to do.

But I needed my hands for that. My hands and the First Blade.

I blinked out over Goat Boy’s head. I came back twenty feet away in a snap of red and gold light. I was flesh again, bare ass naked as the day I was born, standing barefoot in ankle deep snow. Temps were below zero, and all I felt was a cool breeze over my skin.

Damn, I felt good!

I was whole again. My soul sang underneath my skin. I’m not a fan of that New Age bullcrap, but there’s no other way for me to describe it. No words, but the sound made my skin tingle. And underneath that I sensed the Mark. She didn’t sing, but I knew she was there.

Krampus moved. He grabbed the car frame I’d been chained. His body shook when he lifted it up. The rear axle and the passenger side door fell off. He raised it off the ground a foot and then threw it at me.

No big deal. I raised my right hand and tossed it aside with a flick of my wrist. The car went sideways. It bounced once, then twice and then plowed into a snowdrift.

Huh. That was pretty damn weak.

"You tried to break me.” I smirked at him. My voice sounded inhuman. Full of the demon. The sky overhead darkened. Lightning flashed with each word I said.

"Alastair tortured me for thirty years down in Hell before I broke. Did you really think that shitty twenty minutes you just put me through would do the job?”

The Mark glowed. Wind swirled around my ankles. It blew the snow away, pushed the drifts back.

I took one look at what was uncovered and stopped short. So did the Mark.

A small pale hand poked out of a snowdrift nearby.

There were bodies underneath the snow.

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