Here is a fun fact: there is no such thing as gas main explosions.
Here is another: if you can eat gods (especially the dangerous kind) it is a necessary thing to safeguard the world but you make no money at it. Which is why I help solve problems for the fae, mostly via having chats with monsters and critters from Outside the universe about how they made agreements with the fae in exchange for glamours that let them hide among humans, and breaking those agreements – in letter or spirit – would be a really bad idea. Most of them actually listen. For the ones that don’t, I have a god inside me I can draw out and I’m very creative with how I define god-eater. It extends to most forms of energy, for a start.
Problem is, sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. Some things are too damn big or weird, and the case in point is some kind of living cloud-thing that was hiding in a sewage treatment plant. Which is all fine, except its presence was causing irregularities in the local water supply. The kind that led to people levitating and scenes generally only found in C-grade horror movies. I’d been dumb enough to chalk this up to an accident on its part. What can I say? I’ve learned to chalk a lot up to accident the past couple of years.
The cloud is green-yellow, with millions of small things inside it. Limbs? Eyes? I’ve no damn idea since they keep flowing into liquid and morphing into new forms as it expands. It’s the size of a living room at present, and the exorcisms I shouted seem to have at least confined it to the general area. So now it’s drifting out of the sewage plant toward me, having some something to he workers in the plant to render them catatonic: only four had turned the colour of overripe melons, so I hoping they were all right. I didn’t have time to check before I can outside for open space.
“Talk,” I say. “The fae hired us: they won’t ignore what happens here. What do you want?”
I’m no magician, to speak words that can’t be ignored, but the cloud does slow and my skin prickles as I feel it staring down at me. I try not to think too hard about radiation. The entity is becoming more and more liquid, and I’m damn sure this isn’t a good sign at all given the kinds of things liquids can dissolve.
“This is a nice world. Warm. Moist. I want it,” a choral voice says that sounds like radio announcers drowning in a hot springs.
“Really? You want to take over the world?” I ask slowly, mostly because I’ve been dealing with fae problems for months, and travelled with government agents for some onths before than and a magician for over a year: I’ve never run into anything from Outside the universe until now that seemed to have read comic books, or at least used them as a basis for taking over a world.
“It is small. You are small.”
It moves closer. The god inside me rolls out over me, all night shades of fur and claws of blood and bone. It used to be the creature living in my closet. It’s a lot easier to make a god than most people think. I take the brief moment of surprise that grants me and pull out my cell phone, texting: ‘WHERE R U?!’
The text back from Jay is, ‘Getting Coffee. You wanted coffee, right?! AND there is a lineup so you don’t need to shout :(’
I text back. ‘Plant. Monster. Binding. Now. PLEASE.’
Adding the please takes seconds I don’t have, and the creature flows over me. The grass bubbles and shifts like quicksand on old TV shows around me. I tried eating some of its energy before I ran out of the plant earlier and almost threw up: whatever the entity is made of, it’s too damn weird to be mere energy. I gather my fear, press it into the god and alter its shape. Claws and fur become a sturdy blanket around me, a shield that shudders under the pressure against it even as it forms. I trained with an exorcist for a time, enough to know certain tricks. My death should let loose an exorcism powerful enough to banish it back outside the universe; it’s not like I’ve ever tested that out.
A whistle fills the air, bright and cheerful, and a kid’s voice shouts. “Hi! I didn’t get the coffee, but!” and the rest of Jay’s voice is drowned out by an awful squelching squeal of a sound as the entity is yanked right off of me; the ground around me is smoking and smells like burnt plastic as I let the god back inside me. I’m alive, and Jay is holding a venti cup of coffee in one hand and beaming.
“You put the creature inside the coffee cup, didn’t you?”
“Yup! It made for a really good binding and your exorcism helped and it was really busy trying to eat you so it didn’t notice me at all.” His grin is pure, shameless pride and I’d bet money that it actually fixes some of the ground as I walk over to Jay. He looks to be about eleven, but it from far, far Outside the universe and can do things with bindings that even magicians can barely grasp. Also, he’s Jay, which means a lot of things in its own right.
His left shoe is missing and the right knee of his jeans torn. I text the fae to come fix up the mess, set the coffee down on the part of the parking lot the creature didn’t dissolve – the fae will know what it is, but I write ‘cloud monster’ on it with my pen just before I can before frowning at Jay. “You know the frame of your glasses is bent?”
“Oh.” The frame snaps back into shape, and his jeans bind themselves back together even as the missing shoe zips through the air from down the street to land beside him on the ground, bound back to him by his will. “I’m okay, though!”
“Jay.” He’s tough and quick, but at present unable to see – which doesn’t make things easy for sensing bhindings when he’s moving at speed.
He pouts, gripping his white cane tightly in his right hand. “You texted loud so I ran here and I only got hit by two cars,” holding up the fingers of his left hand. “I was kinda busy working on that binding and it’s hard to sense other bindings when moving fast but I’m pretty sure the cars are OK.”
“Running into a kid – even one moving very quickly – isn’t good for stranger’s sanity, remember?”
Jay nods. It’s been five months since he lost his sight in an incident that led the magician to cease travelling with us – because he used Jay too often. Now I use him, even when I’m trying not to. I reach over and ruffle his hair gently. “We’ll check on the people and make sure they’re not freaked out, all right? And then I think I might owe you a very big hot chocolate.”
“I don’t?” I say, trying to keep calm.
“I was hit by two cars so you owe me two of them.”
I count to ten. It never helps. “Of course I do. Two hot chocolates, new shoes and I think we need to work on your skills when running.”
Jay just nods, takes my hand and walks easily beside me. No comment on how he saved me from being eaten, or how he only got into this trouble because of me. We’re friends, so to Jay that’s just how things are. I squeeze his hand, trying not to hold too tight even if my grip can’t hurt him, and wonder how long I can keep using him like this before it’s too much for me to bear.