Felix stood on the empty bridge, watching the water swirl far below. This had always been his favorite place to go and think when sad. He wondered if anyone would really miss him. Having just lost his fiancee to another person and the apartment they shared, felt like the final nail in the coffin. Especially after moving across the country for her. He looked to the right and saw no one. This didn’t surprise Felix as it was about three in the morning. Slowly he started to climb over the rail. Leaning back he closed his eyes about to let go.
“Hey, don’t do that.” A young female voice with a slight accent said as someone put their hands on top of his, pinning him to the railing. The strong and icy grip startled Felix. As he opened his eyes he saw a young woman. She was wearing a sundress with floral print and mary janes. A surgical mask covered her face. “Suicide won’t help. You cannot give up hope.” The girl’s eyes were starting to tear up. Felix thought for a moment. He couldn’t kill himself in front of this girl. What would that do to her mentally. Maybe he would come back another day.
“Okay, help me back over.” Felix leaned forward and the girl easily pulled him back over the railing. He collapsed onto the ground and she leaned on the railing next to him wiping her eyes. “Why did you save me? Where did you even come from?”
The girl pointed toward an empty street, “Over there. I was with my friend and I saw you. You didn’t look my way before climbing over. I wanted to stop you because I don’t think anyone should take their life. That’s a choice there is no coming back from. I am Kiko.“. The woman extended a hand.
“Felix.“, He took her hand and shook it gently, “You said your friend? Where are-“. Before he could finish his question a gunshot rang out. Causing Felix to jump and look at the direction Kiko had pointed earlier. A tall man in a long coat and a scarf ran by. In each hand, the stranger carried what looked like sawed off rifles. “Oh, there goes my friend. I better see what is going on,” the girl jumped to her feet and pulled a pair of old shears from what looked like a holster on the side of her leg, “Anata jishin o korosanaide, okay?” Before he knew it, both people were gone and Felix was left sitting on the ground wondering if that was real, or just an odd dream.
“Man, I can’t even kill myself right.” Felix muttered standing up and walking in the direction that the others had run. He looked up at the stars above through the bridge’s truss. “Maybe today wasn’t the day I was supposed to die. Maybe tomorrow.”
He walked the empty streets past the closed bars and restaurants. His footsteps echoed quietly as he got to his car. When he stopped though the echoing footsteps kept going. He looked up and saw a woman walking oddly down the street. She was on her feet, but her movements were jerky and strange. It was as if she were just learning to use her legs. Felix looked away thinking nothing of it. The person seemed to pick up speed a little and Felix nervously fished for his keys in his pocket. Looking up again woman is now running towards him.
Her gait is clumsy and bizarre, but remarkably fast. Now in a panic Felix stopped searching for his keys and ran.
“No, come back!” shouted the woman in an odd voice. It sounded distorted as if two people were talking at the same time, and both were slightly distorted somehow.
“Get away!” Felix shouted over his shoulder. He felt the sudden impact of her against his back. Falling to the ground, Felix could feel the woman’s knee in his back. Helplessly he struggled before being turned around by his attacker. She grabbed at her face and seemed to rip away the skin from her mouth. Revealing a canine mouth that seemed to have been hidden behind the other skin somehow.
“What the hell?!” Felix fought harder, but it was futile. The creature lurched forward to bite at Felix’s neck. He blocked the attack with his arm. The monster’s teeth dug into his flesh as he remembered something he had read and shoved his arm as far back a he could into its jaws. There were more footsteps running towards the two, but Felix was too busy focusing on his attacker to see what else was happening.
“Get off him!” Said an unfamiliar voice as the stock of a rifle slammed against the creature’s face. Sending it rolling off Felix. It was the man from before. His long coat open and flowing, with a rifle in each hand. Though the one he had struck the monster with was backwards. He flipped the gun so it was ready to shoot again. It quickly got up and snarled, “My prey was going to die anyways.” It lunged at the two and the man quickly started shooting both sawed off rifles right above Felix, who couldn’t help but scream as the shots thundered and the hot brass fell on top of him. Unloading both guns the stranger then slipped them under his long coat and pulled out a pair of derringers and fired four more shots into it. The monster stood for a moment, shocked expression on it’s face as it fell to the ground dead. Kiko ran from a nearby alley.
“Sorry, I had to kill the other one.”, She said, not seeming to notice Felix curled up on the floor.
“And where in Sam Hill were you when they jumped me?” snapped the man as he put his guns away.”
“I was saving a man from committing suicide.”
“Well that almost got me killed, and it make me lose track of one of them that attacked this guy.”
“I was just trying to do what I could. We are to help Humans and-”
“Don’t say it. We don’t know how many people have called the cops, and we need to get going now.”
Kiko and the man didn’t break eye contact for a moment, and she spun on her heel and went to pick up the monster’s body
Felix looked between Kiko, the man, the monster, and his arm. He started breathing fast as what just happened started to hit him all at once.
“Kiko, you get the skinwalker bodies, I will help this guy.” said the man bending over to get Felix.
"Watashi wa jibun no-,” she started saying before seeing Felix in a panic, “Oh no, Felix!“.
“You know him?”
“Yeah he was the guy who was going to jump off the walking bridge.”
“Well now he is going to die from blood loss. You really saved his life, huh?”
Felix tried to get to his feet and say something, but his knees shook and he could not think of anything to say.
“What?” was all Felix could muster before blacking out against the side of the car.
Felix started to regain consciousness and heard people talking over him. Slowly opening his eyes and found himself staring up at a blank sterile looking ceiling. The room was lit, but there were no bulbs or known light sources anywhere.
“Oh! Felix, you’re awake!”, Kiko’s voice chimed happily. Felix sat up and examined the room a bit more. It was a white room, with the bed he was in, and an end table. On the end table was a glass of water and a pitcher.
“You did good kid for someone who probably never even seen a monster before.”, Said a new female voice, “I mean you got your arm tore up a bit, but i didn’t even need magic to fix it. Just some light stitches.”
Felix turned to look at the person talking. At the foot of the bed next to Kiko, and the man from before floated a woman. Her eyes Looked as if there were smoldering coals behind them, She was wearing a t-shirt for a band Felix did not recognize and jeans. an intricate hookah, floated in slow orbit around her. Though Felix could not see any coals through the holes in the wind screen it still somehow produced smoke as the woman puffed on it.
“What do you mean magic?” Felix asked as he looked at the three, “Also who are you and what am I doing here?”
“Relax. You are among friends,” Kiko walked over to the man in the scarf. “This here is my friend; Though, we are more co-workers than friends. His name is Elias.”
“Sorry kid. If I had gotten that skinwalker the first time you wouldn’t have been attacked,” the man said. Now that Felix was able to get a better look, something seemed off about this man. His skin was very pale, his eyes though a nice blue were missing something. He wore a long open jacket, vest and a button up shirt underneath. His scarf just made him seem more overly dressed and eccentric.
“This,”continued Kiko, “Is Molodaya Ved’ma. We call her Ved’ma for short.”
“Pleasure meeting you kid.”, she smiled and took a drag off the hookah exhaling the smoke through her nose.
Felix was speechless and bided his time by reaching for the water and drinking the glass. He looked between the three of them as questions buzzed in his head like flies. Finally he figured out where to start and spoke up,
“I have a ton of questions, but i will lay my biggest ones out there first.”, Felix put down the glass and pointed at Ved’ma, “One. Why are you floating? Two. Aren’t skinwalkers just an old Native American boogeyman? Three. Magic, really?”
“Not to answer in any particular order,” Ved’ma floated to the foot of the bed seeming to stand up as she moved, she still didn’t touch the ground, “Yes, magic really. It has existed from the beginning and though some magic has been categorized, catalogued, and become known as science. There is still a lot out there that falls under it. Why I am floating, is because of black magic. A covent of witches banished and cursed me. If my feet are ever on the ground again, I will turn to sand. As for the skinwalkers. There are far worse monsters out there than those. Creatures and beings roam this world, and many do not fit humanity’s norms. Humanity named us monsters and has fought to kill us since the biblical times.”
Ved’ma pointed at Elias, “He is undead,” she then turned and pointed at Kiko, “she is classified as a type of blight witch,” pointing at herself Ved’ma seemed to glow with joy as she said, “and I am the most powerful witch in the state, at least.”
“Why are you telling me all this?” Felix asked as he poured himself another glass of water, while trying not to freak out and thinking of more questions to ask.
“Simple. That water you drank and are about to drink again, is mixed with a potion that will knock you out. Another effect will make you think everything for the past few hours has been a dream.”, Ved’ma took another puff off the hookah. Felix dropped the glass and it shattered on the ground.
“Sorry kid,” Elias spoke up, “But it is better that you just think this all a bad dream, and not get dragged into something that gets you gone.”
Kiko was looking at the floor, trying to disappear from everyone around her.
They all sat around the room quietly, waiting for the potion to take effect.
“Any second now,” sighed Ved’ma after a few minutes, “you should be falling back asleep.”
“You sure you gave me the right water?” Felix could not help but be a bit snarky.
“I am a witch who has seen the rise and fall of countless empires. I have watched humanity pull itself from two wars that almost ended the world. I do not give people the wrong water. Something is off.”
“Yeah, your potion was a flop.”
“Again, you miserable little snot, I do not make flop potions! Elias, Kiko. I am going to run some tests. You both stay in here.” With that Ved’ma grabbed Felix out of bed. Felix just now realizing his arm was bandaged. She pulled him through a doorway which seemed to have not been there a moment ago. Hurriedly she lead him through what looked like an odd antique shop. Though, some of the things looked more like they belonged in an oddity museum than a shop. She opened a door into the main storefront.
“Zackry. We have work to do.”, She said to a tall figure with his back towards her.
The man scribbled on some paper before speaking, “How can I help Ved’ma?”, turning around something already seemed different about this man. His short spiky red hair, the freckles across the bridge of his nose, and his nice slacks and shirt were all normal. Which made the rest seem even more bizarre.
His right eye and mouth looked to have been sewn, not stitched shut with red string. The skin around his eyes and lips were midnight black with blood-red cracks throughout. As he stood there the piece of paper flew up and rolled into a scroll before starting to orbiting him similar to Ved’ma’s hookah.
“Felix, this is Zackry. My personal assistant and apprentice,” Ved’ma puffed on her hookah as she spoke.
Zackry pulled down the scroll and scribbled something fast, “A pleasure to meet you,” the scroll said before returning to it’s previous rotation. Felix was speechless and could not help but stare at Zackry.
“Now that we all know each other’s names. To the roof!” Ved’ma shouted as she flew up some nearby stairs, her hookah yanked by the hose behind her..
“You will have to forgive her Felix. She is a bit eclectic.” Zackry wrote as he pulled Felix along.