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The Last Chronicle of Pete Mersill





By





Pete









First Published - [November 16th, 2016]

Fantastic Creatures: Fellowship of Fantasy

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N8SZJET/


This edition published [July 10th, 2017] by [David Millican]

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ASIN: B073V9G3GH


Copyright © [David Millican] [July 10th, 2017]


This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact

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Insert witty, engaging opening line here. I don’t know who these people are that have time to sit around thinking up great opening lines, but I ain’t one of them. There’s a Fetch waiting to kill me. They’ve tried to before but I know this one won’t go so well for me. My defiance has finally caught up with me.

The Fetches mostly did away humanity’s will to resist in the first month of their rule. I missed that month. Most of it I spent blackout drunk behind the Liquors & Country Ham Store off of I-65 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I’d run out of gas about a mile up the interstate and was called home by the twin beacons of Waffle Houses to either side of the exit. But it was the Liquors & Country Ham Store that told me I had found my final resting place.

Six days and nineteen hours before that I had blown brain matter all over the face of my twelve year-old daughter as I shot the wrong man. On live television no less. Yeah, I’m that kind of screw-up.

Oh, get off your high horses you hoity-toity, poor excuses for cattle. You sat there and did nothing while our world was being taken over. You have no room to judge me. Yeah, so I blew the brains out of an innocent man but at least I took action. At least I’m still taking action. What are you doing? Letting them tighten your leashes and suckle your life energy from you? Just be glad I didn’t kill your Fetch.

For those of you who are uninitiated, which is who this journal is for, to kill a Fetch you must first kill the human it feeds from. Fetches gain their power and sustain their existence by leeching power from their humans. That means when I slit a Fetch’s throat, it just takes life energy from its human to sustain it. In return the human suffers the pain of the wound without the actual cut. Eventually with enough cuts the human expires and the Fetch dies.

Die isn’t quite the right word. They move on to their next plane of existence, the next world, or whatever they call it. Though they don’t move on so much anymore. At least not since Nicole gave magic to hers. Nicole is such an ordinary name to bring down the reign of humanity on Earth, but then again, so is Pete. I’m Pete, if you didn’t bother to read the cover page. And if you didn’t, then give the journal to the person sitting next to you because the job of saving the earth isn’t for idiots.

I’m sorry, that was harsh. Maybe the cover page got torn off and you have no idea what I’m talking about. My name is Pete Mersill and I am fifty-five…ish. Time has less meaning in this new world. Twenty years ago, on live TV, as I said before, I shot the President of the United States through the temple as he shook hands with my daughter. I liked the guy, had no beef with him. I voted for him. But I thought he was the human behind the Fetch trying to take over the world.

I’m getting ahead of myself some. Most of you, by you I mean the uninitiated, don’t even know what a Fetch is beyond some Irish mythical creature. You don’t know that it’s the name of the things you see creeping around your bedroom at night. Or that they’re the things you catch a glimpse of out of the corner of your eye but disappear when you turn to look at them. There are those that are visible to everyone, you just didn’t know they were Fetches. Those who’ve chosen to stay rather than move onto their next world. You call them Overlords.

The world has no idea what the Overlords are but the prevailing theory at the moment is they’re aliens. Which, by the loosest definition of the word, is true. They’re not from here. Fetches, and other creatures like them, are from a different…plane, dimension, existence? I don’t know the right word. It is a place laid on top of our world. No, that’s not right. They exist in the same place and at the same time just in slightly different, frequencies? That doesn’t explain it either but you can ask a mystic or a physicist about that, I’m neither. I’m a brute from Wyoming that smashes things first and then asks questions later. See the above assassination of the President for further clarification.

And while we’re on the point of clarification, as to the events and conversations recorded in this journal, they are accurate to the best of my ability. Though my abilities are pretty accurate. A side effect of killing my Fetch, and other Fetches to a lesser degree, is the ability to see parts of my history like YouTube videos. I don’t know if I’m looking at my memories or the actual events in time, but I can recall almost everything that has ever happened to me with perfect clarity. Just a piece of advice for when it happens to you: don’t watch your birth.

Twenty years ago I had a horrible job as the night manager for a grocery chain. I had the laziest crew, a manager that didn’t care, and a job that sucked the joy out of my life and marriage. My daughter, Marissa, was the only good thing in my life so I worked hard to provide for her.

Every night I straightened, faced, cleaned, and organized that giant store almost by myself. As time went by I got better at the job. They had said the job was impossible but I was finishing with one or even two hours left to go. Yet, something ate at me, didn’t sit right in my stomach. My crew would thank me for doing jobs I hadn’t done, ask me about tasks I hadn’t assigned them, and my food would disappear even though I was the only one with a key to the office where it was kept.

I began review tapes from the nights under the guise of trying to catch a late night shoplifter. The Loss Prevention people thought I was crazy, but at the time so did I. For three nights I saw nothing on the tapes. On the fourth, I saw myself walk into the freezer at the same time I was wiping down the check stands. I was literally in two places at once.

“Are these tapes synced up?”

“Yeah, why wouldn’t they be?” Jones, the tall LP guy said.

“Because I’m right there and right there,” I pointed at the two different screens, “at the same time.”

“No, you’re right there.” They pointed at the freezer.

“And right there.” I tapped the image of myself on the screen, except I knew it wasn’t me because I hadn’t done that last night. Maybe they had reused old tapes and there was bleed through or something.

But that explanation went out the window. “There’s nothing on that screen,” Jones said.

I stared in shock as his gaze circled around the screen, never once landing on the image of me wiping down the conveyor belts. It was like a little kid trying to avoid looking at his mom when she was trying to get him to look her in the eyes. If I hadn’t been ready to soak my trousers I would have found it funny. As it was, I could feel the breath of a fourth person on my neck. There were only three people in the small room.

I turned to look but there was no one behind me. Through the open door I saw a flash of red slip around the corner. I elbowed the short LP guy out of the way, I never remember his name, and looked down the long hallway. It was empty. The fluorescent lights glaring off of the cream tiles left no shadows. The door leading back to the floor was fifty yards away. Five seconds at Olympic speeds. Two seconds was all it had taken me to get around the corner. The swinging door hung silent and still.

Back in the room, ignoring the shocked looks, I demanded they pull up the last few minutes of the camera placed just outside this room. And there I was again, running out of the room followed by me chasing me hot on my heels. Still to this day it makes my head hurt. Of course the LP guys saw nothing and the few other coworkers I grabbed from the breakroom were equally baffled by my behavior and agitation.

James, the manager, stepped in and sent me home telling me to take the next few nights off and get some good sleep. I told him to stop acting like he cared about the store and go back to his games. Probably shouldn’t have done that in front of everyone, but I didn’t care at the moment. Someone… something had breathed on the back of my neck. I still felt the moisture of the hot breath.

I was in a daze as I walked out the doors into the light snow that was supposed to turn heavy by tonight. Our apartment was only a couple of blocks away from the store which is why I had taken the job in the first place. I walked to work and my wife would use the car to take our daughter to school. Which is how Zene, the Russian girl from the deli, was able to catch up to me. Her pink and black hair stood out against the grey sky as I turned to see who was calling my name.

“Pete, I heard you have problems with ghosts last night?”

She wasn’t pretty, but she wasn’t ugly either. My wife Sara was better looking but I won’t lie, she’d been pretty cold the past few years. When Zene, whose real name was Zenechkacaka or something like that, flirted with me, I’d been interested but hadn’t acted on it. When she’d found out I was married she’d backed off. But she was fun to talk to so I made it a point to go to the deli every morning she worked. I’d grab a hot sausage biscuit and chat with her for a minute or two. When I didn’t stop by this morning she must have been worried.

“I don’t know what happened. I’m probably just tired and…” I couldn’t finish the sentence; I knew it was a lie. I knew what I had seen.

“I know you are smart man. You see something, I believe you see it. My aunt, she is…she knows about these things. You go see her and she will help you.” She punched a number into my phone and turned to leave but turned back to give me a quick peck on the cheek.

I stared at her run back to the store trying to convince myself I was thinking about her statement and not watching her backside. Okay, so I was watching. Back at the apartment I waited for Sara to get back. We’d gotten Marissa into one of the more prestigious Charter schools on the other side of town, but it was only a thirty-minute round trip. I knew from experience she wouldn’t be back for another two hours. I took my shower, ate breakfast, and stared at the number in my phone.

I should have gone to bed but I dialed knowing I wouldn’t sleep with the feeling of being watched. I’d had it before, but this time I didn’t dismiss it as a trick of the mind. This time I knew something stood in the corner of my kitchen eating granola out of the jar from the counter. When I looked at it, there was nothing there. But when I looked at the phone I could see the reflected image of a man with no skin munching away as though this were any normal day.

The woman at the other end of the line, younger sounding than I had expected, gave me an address. I waited at the door for Sara, jogging out to meet her as she opened the door to our ancient Jeep Wagoneer. I grabbed the keys out of her hand, kissed her on the cheek, and pulled the driver’s door closed behind me. I didn’t look at her as I drove off. It hadn’t been the first time I smelled cigar smoke on her and I found it easier to not think about it than to face the consequences of what it would do to Marissa. But I did think of Zene on the drive over.

Zene’s aunt turned out to be about three years younger than her, the result of Zene being an unexpected package of joy for her aging parents. She knew something was wrong the moment I stepped through the door. I won’t bore you with the details of the next hour of crushing herbs, burning incense, and shaking odd shaped dice out onto the table. I won’t bore you because she couldn’t tell me anything about what was going on, only that something was going on. She sent me to another woman who sent me to an old man who sent me to a young woman again who tried to send me to Zene’s aunt. When she found out I had already been there she sent me to a ‘last ditch effort’ in her words.

This man, a mystic they called him, was Native American, but not from anywhere around Wyoming. He had deep brown skin with a gaunt face and blue eyes that didn’t seem out of place. He had what I needed, he knew what I had been seeing. That was the first time I heard the word Fetch. They go by many names, Fetch is the Irish one. He’d used some native word that I couldn’t even begin to pronounce, so I latched onto Fetch.

He explained everyone is born with a Fetch, a creature with no existence in this world so it consumes yours. It steals your life energy away so that it can stay here till it is ready to move on. The longer it is here, the more energy it steals, the stronger it will be in the next world. The legends about the Fetch are like any legend, one part truth, and fifty parts stuff people made up. Doppelgangers, changelings, guardian angels, these are all parts of the Fetch legend, though none of the legends have the full truth.

Even Hyan, the mystic, said most of the stuff he knew wasn’t reliable. He did know a few things for sure. He told me what they were, what they wanted, and how they stole your life. The most important thing he told me was how to kill mine. I wasn’t sure I wanted to but he assured me I needed to.

This is a big deal so pay attention here, humans are immortal. That’s right, we never die from old age. How can that be, Pete? You say, I’ve seen so many old people die. No, what you’ve seen is so many old people murdered by their Fetches that couldn’t bear to be in this world any longer. They can last here permanently but they have no power, no real substance so they want to leave. At least they did before I screwed that all up, but we’re still not there yet. You can patiently wait to hate me as everyone else does.

The point is if there is no Fetch leeching your life energy you’ll never die. After you hit about thirty, your body stops aging and you’ll live for eternity. This is where we get our legends of vampires, from people who have killed their Fetches. Now, this immortality only applies to aging, not injury, disease, or plain old self-destruction. As far as I learned in the intervening years, only three or four of those who have freed themselves from these leeches have made it past two hundred years old. Of those, only one still lives today. She is three-hundred and sixty, mad as a hatter, and not long for this world. She just can’t bear the sustained assault of death time has thrown at her.

If you don’t believe me I have included a picture of my wife and I taken last year. To her dismay and my joy, she is drooping as bodies do when they make their way into the fifth decade of life. Her skin is tougher and the years of tanning and beauty products have left their mark on her face. I, on the other hand, still look like my studly thirty-six year-old self with all the strength and vigor that youth provides. It can be awkward though as my daughter just turned thirty-two and won’t be growing any older. An eternity at the same age as your daughter would be weird. But as I said earlier, I won’t live that long. The Fetch waiting for me will make sure of that.

Back to the story, I went home with a knife blessed by Hyan and killed my Fetch two seconds after walking through my front door. I hadn’t expected there to be so much blood. I don’t know why, it was alive and it was a creature but for some reason I thought it would just die and disappear. It took me days to get the stains out of the carpet. Sara lost her mind. About the dead Fetch, not the carpet. She was cold and horrible to me but she wasn’t completely devoid of humanity.

She’d seen me walk in the door, thrust the knife into empty air, and a translucent-skinned creature fall dead on her coffee table. It didn’t break though, which was impressive for a Goodwill purchase. I sat her down and explained what had happened while her Fetch looked on with interest. I kept an eye on it waiting for it to attack but it never did. I’ve learned that while Fetches are still attached to their humans they aren’t quite aware of other Fetches. Or even this plane of reality beyond their humans. Some are more aware than others, like my Fetch had been. It has to do with the amount of death you have seen in your life.

I’ve seen a lot of death in my life, though most of it was before I could remember. My parents, stellar examples of love that they were, joined a cult while I was still in my mother’s womb. It didn’t take very long for them to lose themselves in the drugs and sex of the culture and I was left to be attended by the other young children in the cult as they got their worship on.

But on the night that they intended to sacrifice me to their prophet, one of the kids, I never did find out who, called in the FBI. With bullets flying, fires burning out of control, and pieces of the cheap metal structures collapsing all around me, I lay on the altar having a good ol’ time with my guardian angel. Yep, you guessed it, my Fetch. Fetches appear to you when you’re about to die. That is one of the most well known facts about them. Except, think about it, how do we know about it if the people they appear to are dying? Because Fetches ain’t prophets, they can’t tell the future.

They have no special ability to know when you’re going to die and when not. They look at the situation around you and determine, ‘Hey, it looks like this kid’s been sent up the creek, might as well come and steal what life force I can before he kicks the bucket.’ But when you don’t die, they fade into the background again excited that they get to keep stealing from you, keep growing in power. Sometimes, like in my case I’m sure, they even step in and protect you, which is where the guardian angel thing comes in.

But the point is, the more you face death, the more it happens around you, the more times you see your Fetch. And the more your Fetch is able to affect you. Or maybe, the more real they become in this world. Once again, I’m not sure how it all works. But what I do know is that the more you see them the more they see you. And that bond grows stronger over time.

And before we move on, you’re probably wondering why I killed my Fetch, and my daughter’s Fetch, but didn’t kill my wife’s. Do I really hate her that much? I don’t know. When the world went to pot and none of her lovers would take her in, she came crawling back to me. I could have left her, but Marissa still loves her, so I let her stay with me; I treat her as my wife but when her Fetch finally takes her, it will be the best day of a horrible life. But I didn’t kill hers because she was worried it might be nice. I’m not kidding, she was worried about hurting its feelings.

Anyway, once I killed my Fetch, I could see the other Fetches. And I began seeing them in my dreams. And the more Fetches I killed, the clearer my dreams became.

Wait, I realized I missed something. I know this is all over the place but I’m trying to get everything you need to save the world down but I’m not a writer you know. I don’t even really read that much so you’ll have to excuse my weak attempts.

Anyway, you want to know how I killed the Fetches without killing the people. It was the knife that Hyan had given to me. It had some ancient juju on it that destroyed the Fetches connection to this world, meaning with humans, without letting them move on to the next world. During the craziness of the assassination, I lost the knife. I’ve learned how to keep them from moving on by myself, the separating from feeding on humans…that still eludes me.

Anyway, the dreams got clearer with each new Fetch I killed. I didn’t go on a rampage or anything, just those whose people I liked or had helped me. And any Fetch that took too great an interest in me.

The dreams showed this world that we live in now, where technology has been capped and Fetches control humanity’s hearts and mind. Humans are slaves to a ruling class of creatures that have no capacity for sympathy, let alone empathy. And people are kept in check by an invisible force of monsters that exactly equal their population. Well, invisible to most. And this new world was created by a single Fetch of such power that it warped reality around it.

This Fetch’s human had been brought to the brink of death so many times they and their Fetch shared a single mind and body. Fully aware of each other they began to plot the overthrow of humanity. The human because of the wrongs it had suffered, the Fetch because it wanted more power. And in my dreams this Fetch looked, acted like, and sounded like our President.

So, I began plotting the death of the President as all sane people would. I was willing to die to keep my baby girl safe from that world. Ten long months I studied his movements, his security details, his habits, anything really that would give me greater insight to him. Ten long months I prepared for my death shortly after his. Then, in a surprise move, he changed destinations and landed at F.E. Warren Air Force base just three miles south of me.

Marissa’s teacher called and said that out of all the students in Cheyenne, she had been chosen to shake his hand on stage and read her story about America. My plans went out the window as I grabbed my uncle’s rifle and ran out the door. Of course Sara had the car, she never stayed home during the day anymore, but I had saved up enough to buy a scooter. I drove faster than was safe, if safe on an interstate on a scooter was a thing to begin with.

There was a ton of security but I found it easy enough to slip through the back when they weren’t looking. Fetches tended to look where their humans were about to look, a precognition so to speak, so finding a place where no one was looking was easier than it would seem. I slid around to the side where there was a press booth set up. I climbed the stairs until I was covered by the black cloth. Scrambling up the scaffolding I peeked out the top, the press below me screened off by another cloth. Laying down I pulled back a flap to give an unhindered view of the stage.

I’d brought the gun because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get close enough to stab the Fetch. But with the Fetch and human being one it would die and my little girl, and this world of course, would be safe. I was late and Marissa was striding across the stage towards him, confidence that could’ve only come from her mother clear in her walk. I aimed, heard a scream, and pulled the trigger.

It didn’t take me long to figure out I had shot the wrong man. His Fetch stepped out from behind one of the Secret Service agents where it had been hiding. It, being joined with the President, had felt like it needed protection too. The crowd was in chaos and Marissa was screaming trying to wipe off the gore and mess. Secret Service and Security were swarming towards me as I lay too stunned to move.

They ripped me out of the scaffolding and I fell twenty feet to the hard clay soil below. With a whoosh I heard the air escape my lungs and a knee dug into my back while hands yanked on my arms. I’d dropped the gun but it was useless now. The crowd had been pushed back and a black Lincoln town car pulled up on the opposite end of the stage. All action came to a halt as the President jumped out of the backseat in his undershirt, boxer-briefs, and black socks. All eyes were on the newcomer as he hustled towards me.

Even the fast fading Fetch of the real President stared in shocked disbelief. But I saw what none of them did. The new President was a Fetch, fully formed and physically manifested Fetch. Its human, a plain looking slightly overweight girl of about twenty, was inside of it. They moved as one, the Fetch overlaid on the girl, and knelt in front of me. That’s when I learned that Fetches can shapeshift.

“Thank you for stopping him. I don’t know what he was planning to do.” He said in the deep voice of the President.

She winked at me. The Fetch didn’t wink, the girl inside winked. She knew I could see.

She stood to address the agent who had hustled up, gun not pointed at the newcomer but not put away either. The agent asked the false President a lot of questions and he gave the woman his answers which she seemed satisfied with and holstered her weapon. We were all whisked away to the Air Force base then, even Marissa who I wasn’t allowed to see yet.

Safe inside a hangar the false President told his/her made up story about being switched out for a look alike. About my fake anonymous call to the FBI to rescue her, I apparently had seen something, and my determination to not let the imposter hurt my daughter. I didn’t know how much of this had been set up by the false President ahead of time and how much it was chance but I had just handed over the Presidency of the United States to a Fetch. A cold, merciless, life-leeching Fetch.

They cleared out the hangar because the President wanted to thank me in person.

“So you know to keep your mouth shut right? First, who’s going to believe you? Second, if they do, you assassinated the President of the United States.” It spoke with the girl’s voice.

“Who are you?”

“It shouldn’t matter, but seeing how much you’ve helped me today, I think I’ll give you a little something. Nicole. My name is Nicole.”

“Nicole what?”

“Wells.”

“Why are you doing this?”

She waved over a Secret Service agent. It was the one who had driven her to the scene of the shooting. The one that I could now see was also a fully manifested Fetch. A Fetch that had no human. There wasn’t another human close enough to belong to this Fetch and there was something about his look, his feel, which told me he was in this world permanently.

“I was raised by a coven of witches. Most people don’t believe in magic but I assure you it is real. I guess I don’t need to assure you of that.” She ran her hand along my jawline but it was the President’s hand as well. “And they took me to the edge of death so many times it seemed I just lived there.”

“One time,” the President Fetch said, “I was with her night and day for two weeks. Every time she improved they came to nudge her back to the edge.”

“Why?” It was all I could think to ask.

“Because they had no talent for magic so they stole it from me,” Nicole said with a dead voice. “And, because they had no talent, they couldn’t steal it magically. They had to bleed it and beat it out of me. Though my aunt had…other methods.” I didn’t want to know about them so I let that statement lie. “But I began to talk to my Fetch, his name is Ghanka by the way, and the more I talked the more we became united.”

Ghanka stood and paced away while Nicole remained in front of me. The split was instantaneous and without show.

“One day, something happened to the witches, and they went into hiding. They left me alone for three weeks. Three weeks that resulted in their undoing. Ghanka brought me food, he was solid enough by then to move in this world by himself, and bandaged my wounds. And he was waiting for the witches when they returned.

“I didn’t know how to use my magic; I had been nothing more than a well to be drunk from before. But he did. He’d been watching them use my magic for ten years. And thanks to the witches I knew how to give my magic away.” She had been looking off into the distance but now she returned her gaze to mine. “Have you ever made love with something that can touch your soul?” She laughed at my discomfort.

The Fetches laughed, too but it was delayed like the joke had to travel a long distance first.

“I was twelve years old when Ghanka took the magic from my body and killed the witches who had tortured me all of my life.” She paused as though a thought had just occurred to her, “Isn’t your little girl twelve?”

“Leave her out of this.” My voice had more growl in it than I had ever heard.

She held up her hands, “I meant no offense. I only wanted you to see where I’m coming from. Could you imagine what happened to me happening to your daughter?” She looked deep into my eyes and must have seen the pain there. “Yes, I see that you can. Then maybe you’ll understand why I can’t stand by and let people like them continue to exist.”

“But what does taking over the Presidency have to do with any of that?”

“Not much really. It’s the taking over of the world that I’m after. I would advise you to go home, buy several years’ worth of supplies and head into the mountains. This world is going to get very…,” she pulled back the long sleeve of her shirt to reveal a thousand little scars, “painful.”

“How is that Fetch still here?” was all I could think to ask as she walked away.

“Who?” She looked over her shoulder at the guard. “Oh, Alric? I’ve given Fetches the ability to choose whether to stay or go. And those who stay are able to draw their energy from all of humanity rather than just one human. All of humanity except me, of course.” She giggled. “Even Ghanka no longer feeds from me.”

She became one with Ghanka and walked out the door towards the tarmac where Air Force One was waiting. Marissa came running in with a thousand questions but I held my finger up to my lips. She was a good girl, she had seen me kill her Fetch and obeyed without hesitation. I went to my store, checked that James wasn’t there, and set Marissa to getting every canned good she could into the carts.

Zene was just getting off work and I told her things were going to get bad. She, like everyone in the world, had heard about the assassination of the imposter President. She put her hand on my cheek and I reveled in the touch. But I pulled away before Marissa could come upon us. She believed me, thinking I had been given some insight for my service to the President, and joined Marissa in stocking up.

I headed to the cash room, empty of the day managers who had already gone home, and I took all the cash. The LP guys wouldn’t be coming because the camera in the cash room had been out for a week. I was the only one outside of LP that knew about the outage as I had been in the room when the camera broke.

Thirteen hundred dollars’ worth of groceries were put on my employee tab. I authorized the transaction, a fire-able offense, and we loaded everything up in Zene’s car. At the apartment we transferred our stuff to the Wagoneer. I invited her to go with us but she said she wanted to be with family. I understood and waved goodbye as we went inside to pack. I’d known Sara wouldn’t come from the moment I was told to run. The surprise was that she didn’t fight me over custody of Marissa.

“Sweetie, the men I’m going to stay with, they don’t really do kids.”

Marissa shrugged and went to her room. Sara gave me some snarky comment about not being uppity and bounced her hips out the door. Two seconds later she was back demanding keys to the Wagoneer.

“Sorry honey, it’s in my name. As is the scooter. There’s a bus station down the road.” I said as I slipped her phone and wallet out of her purse.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m taking back my phone, my credit cards, and my debit card. That’s money I made, not you. So, I’ll leave you…seven dollars in cash. That will get you all the way across town.” I tucked all of it into my pockets and handed the purse back. She stormed out the door and I went back to work.

We filled the back of the Wagoneer and part of the back seat as well. I grabbed the six thousand dollars I’d been hiding in a safe bolted to the floor in the closet. It was covered with Star Wars stickers and held boring tax documents in it. But I’d made a false back wall to keep Sara from stealing it. That combined with the ten K I had taken from the store gave me enough to buy some essentials.

We stopped by the new uber outdoor store on the way out of town. I grabbed a satellite tv, internet, and phone device which maxed out my credit cards. I bought a .270, a 30-06, and two twelve gauges with enough ammo to last us a while but not enough to call the authorities about. As well as fishing rods, a two thousand dollar tent with a shower, heater, and four rooms built in, along with clothes, survival gear, more food, and five thousand dollars on a couple of ATV’s and a trailer to pull them on. The sales girl must have thought she was winning the lottery. Apparently they worked on commission and I dropped over twenty-two thousand in less than an hour and a half. Most of that was the paperwork.

I almost fainted at the amount of money I threw around but I knew it wouldn’t matter when Nicole made her move. The dreams told me this world was about to become a pit of misery and people would work for and be fed by the Fetches. Economy was a word of the past, not the future. I spent what I had left on motorcycle off of craigslist. It would be faster to get in and out of town on and, sue me, I bought it because I wanted it.

We were up in the Snowy Ranges for five days before the news broke. We’d found an old campsite at an abandoned mine and set up shop. Three days after we had set up another family joined us. Zene’s family. They said it had been unintentional but her aunt had guided them here so I didn’t believe it for a second. Things had already begun to change. Bills being passed by Senators and Representatives that shouldn’t be working together. World leaders changing policies and generals moving troops around.

On the morning of the fifth day, the news was filled with revelations that those in power weren’t human. Nicole, on live TV, stepped out of her Fetch and declared Earth under her power. What followed couldn’t accurately be called a rebellion. They tried fight back, but camera crews documented as mobs took to the streets only to fall asleep as they marched. One man, a retired Gunnery Sergeant, didn’t let the lack of energy dissuade him. He pushed on towards the White House, rifle in hand ready to reclaim America. He withered to a frail old man as we watched. As he blew out his last breath his Fetch appeared before him, straightened, and took its place in the ruling class of Overlords.

By the time the sun was sinking towards the horizon the overthrow was complete and all signs of rebellion were gone. Early reports said millions dead, possibly hundreds of millions, their bodies turned to dust in the street. All those with a spark of resistance had been culled, their Fetches forced to move on to the next world.

The greater Fetches, as I now call them, gained control over the lesser Fetches through Nicole’s magic. The next three weeks were called the purge as the Overlords killed millions of the lesser Fetches while leaving their humans as cattle to be fed from. They also stopped new Fetches from entering this world without their permission. They couldn’t risk the world being over populated by Fetches and destroying the crops through overuse.

Zene’s two aunts, her sister, and she herself put up a ward around our camp. It kept Fetches out of the camp and with the separation I was able to kill theirs with minimal pain. I went out on several missions to bring back many of the other mystics I had visited months before. They were wandering the mountains looking for me as well, though they said they didn’t know that’s what they were doing. As the morning of the sixth day arrived our numbers had risen to around sixty people. There was enough food for about seven months and plenty of shelter to go around.

That morning as one of Zene’s cousins, a slip of a boy about the same age as Marissa, was out scouting for strays from the town he saw two men coming up the mountain. He couldn’t explain how but he said they just looked wrong. I followed him and found two fully manifested Fetches. Most humans had trouble telling a greater Fetch and human apart if the Fetch wore a human disguise. For me though, it was clear as day. And these two, they were powerful. I didn’t know the redheaded one but the other was Alric, Nicole’s personal bodyguard. Though his features were beginning to change, become more angular.

We headed back and I made the decision to leave. With the others’ Fetches dead and the camp not having a road to it, it was beyond unlikely that the attackers would be looking for random stragglers on such a direct path. And as far as Hyan knew, Fetches couldn’t find humans through any magical means. I confirmed that I was the target when I left the camp and headed further up the mountain. Their path bent to follow me.

But they didn’t know the mountain and I lost them in a rock field. With a hasty goodbye to Marissa I was off down the mountain on the bike. I didn’t go too fast, I wanted them to follow; I wanted to lead them away from Marissa and the others. They were on foot for most of the way; their car was at the bottom of the mountain. I stopped and filled up with gas from their tank while I waited for them to catch up.

The chase across America was far more orderly than I had expected, they didn’t break the speed limit. I don’t know why they cared about it, must be deep-seated conditioning to not draw attention to themselves. Once we were past Kansas City I took off like a bullet. The roads were empty, people confined to their homes or work and I held the speedometer as near to the hundred mile an hour mark as my nerves could handle. After a couple of hours and most of my gas I pulled over forty miles before St. Louis.

I filled up, nobody asked for money anymore, and took a hotel room. When I say took, I programmed my own keys and went up and locked the door. I moved the furniture against the door, propped the mattress in front of the window and used the box springs and frame to hold it in place.

I’d been asleep for about an hour when I felt the presence of the Fetches outside the room. I looked between the front door and the back balcony doors. I hadn’t blocked them off because it was my first escape route. If the back had been blocked I would have gone through the adjoining room’s front door. But they were out front so I slipped out back and over the railing. Dropping to the ground I ran under them, hoping they wouldn’t fall on me from above, and on to my motorcycle without incident.

Alric was there again. There was a darkness about him as I watched him fade in my rear-view mirror. He had become something more than a Fetch. He’d joined with something evil and it was corrupting his already corrupted essence.

In my fear and lack of sleep I forgot to keep an eye on the speedometer and you already know about the running out of gas. I took all the scotch I could carry from the Liquors & Country Hams store and waited for them to kill me. I deserved to die so I didn’t run anymore, but I wasn’t brave enough to face it sober.

But as you can see by this journal, they didn’t come for me. Not then, not till now. The greater Fetches rose up and killed Nicole and Ghanka. They liked being able to control the lesser Fetches but didn’t like someone having the ability to control them. They had learned how to feed off the entire population of Earth as well as how to keep themselves from moving on. That was all they thought they needed. Turns out Nicole was the one tracking me and without her, I was just another human in a sea of humans. I sat there for two days, three sheets to the wind, maybe four. I don’t really know what that phrase means; I was drunk is my point.

My reprieve from the death sentence, my new lease on life didn’t have much of an effect on me. I sat and I drank and I ate country ham. It was going to be a race to see who killed me first, alcohol, dehydration, or heart attack. They never got to the finish line because Sara, yes Sara of all people, found me and cleaned me up.

There was no love in the action, she had been rejected by her now almost neutered men who had no need for their shiny toy. She thought I was the best chance at keeping her alive and free from the influence of her Fetch. Clever girl traced me through my phone and took me back to the mountain camp. To her dismay the wards didn’t include her, I don’t understand the magic so don’t ask me why, and I couldn’t kill her Fetch without killing her.

That’s when I decided to become a Fetch hunter. The world was heating up, the forests and rivers receding, and everything was turning to refuse in a hot minute. The mystics explained that before the Fetches made their move, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of different magical creatures out there. They didn’t fight each other, they didn’t bother each other because they were evenly balanced. Each creature maintained its territory and they kept the Earth from dying. Now the Fetches had unbalanced everything pushed the others out. Well, I do have to own up to my part in the destruction.

So, the only way I could see to save humanity, the planet, was to kill Fetches. But I couldn’t bring myself to kill lesser Fetches by killing their humans first. So the mystics, led by Hyan, made me a map. A magical map no less but I wasn’t up to mischief. I was up to murder. It would show the humans who had become aware of their Fetches and joined with them. Greater Fetches had no humans and so no presence that the mystics could track. But where the Greaters gathered, humans became aware of their Fetches. Most chose to join rather than be drained of their life. Those humans I didn’t have a problem killing.

Maybe I should have a problem. Maybe I should be sympathetic to their dilemma but I’m not. I never claimed to be a saint. I have only one goal. One. Give my little girl a better life. And if you stand in the way of that, if you choose them over us, I’ll put a bullet in your brain and then rinse and repeat with your Fetch. And I still sleep at night. Yeah, I’m that kind of screwed-up.

Anyway, I finally ended up in Phoenix. I spent the last twenty years travelling the world righting my wrong one Fetch at a time. Except there is no righting my wrong. No matter how many I kill, millions upon millions of people died for my mistake. And now billions suffer because of it. There is no redemption for me, there is no happy ending. There is no love for Pete. Sorry, had to lighten the tone a little.

And now, after all these years, I have finally drawn the attention of the Greater Fetches. In total I’ve killed maybe a hundred of them over that time, out of a couple thousand. But something changed, something made them sit up and take notice of me. Don’t know what it was. Their minds are as alien to us as ours are to them. So we moved to the most sunbaked patch of ground that still has a city on it. Fetches don’t like the heat, it affects their power somehow. Well, that’s not exactly true. They don’t like extremes of temperatures, hot or cold.

It’s one of the reasons that most of the legends about them come from temperate places like Ireland and Scotland. They were strongest there. But now the world is brown, water has moved north, and much of the planet is uninhabited. And it’s in those places that the other hunters gather, the rebels make their stand. There aren’t any others like me, they’re just normal folk doing their best to fight back. They can’t leave the deserts though, or the Greaters will suck their life from them. So, they gather in back alleys of abandoned cities hoping for a miracle.

Suckers that they are they thought it was me. ‘Nope,’ I told them. ‘I’m just a mirage.’ They didn’t think that was funny. I didn’t care. Sara, who’s tagged along with me all these years because she has nowhere else to go, laughed. She does have her bright spots every now and again. I was only in Phoenix to lay low. I was sure that if I didn’t make a move for a couple of months the heat would die down and I could get back to work. Pun most definitely intended.

There were plenty of abandoned houses and I even found some solar panels and a window unit air conditioner. We slept in the walk in closet off the master bedroom. It was the only place that didn’t have an external wall or window and could be closed up. I punched a hole through the dry wall and used a rusted saw I found in the living room as decoration to cut back the two by fours. I slid the air conditioner in and hooked the solar panels up to the fancy battery system.

Three months passed like that, us sleeping in a tiny cool room, foraging in the wilds and trashcans for food. Unfortunately killing Fetches didn’t pay too well. Especially since the people I freed from the Fetches were usually dead, too. When I got a greater, people would share stuff with us but I had trouble with rationing. So, we lived like hunter/gatherers but what I hunted you couldn’t eat.

I found a few more a/c units that were fixable. I wasn’t great at mechanic stuff but several of my jobs had required me to be a jack of all trades, so I got the job done. We took them down to the bazaar to trade for food and water. I only had one set of solar panels though so three of the a/c’s wouldn’t bring in much. But the moment we rode my old motorcycle into the square I knew there was a problem.

Everyone was looking at us, at me. Phoenix was a lawless, transitional town and it wasn’t unusual for people to come and go without warning. I shouldn’t have stood out in a crowd of strangers but every eye was on me. I left Sara with the bike and threaded my way to a church at the south end of the bazaar. Inside was a local rebel group and they were waiting for me.

“You have a bounty on your head.”

“How much?”

“A spot in one of the Overlords resorts.” The wiry, dirty speaker leaned in, “for life.”

“And do any of you intend to collect on this bounty?”

“No, sir,” The speaker said. “That sounds like about the worst thing I can imagine. Living next to them day after day being able to do nothing about it.”

“Why not? Why couldn’t you kill them?”

“You know why.”

“I wasn’t sure if you did. So what’s going to happen?”

“Get out of here. They said someone’s coming to collect but from what I hear, it’s something rather than someone.”

“How long?”

“Three days ago. We would’ve told you sooner but we didn’t know where you were squatting.” He sat down on his chair.

“No problem. Thanks for the heads up. Can I get an escort back through the crowd?”

“No need. They know if they try to collect, we’ll make sure they never make it out alive.”

“I got good stuff. You’ll want it. Plus, what I’ve got out at the house.” I gave them the address and they sent someone with me to protect the a/c systems.

I didn’t run back but I didn’t slow down for anyone either. The bike had just under a full tank and I headed out on I-10 for Los Angeles. There was a large grouping of targets there, probably several Greaters. They wouldn’t expect me to go on the attack. We came across a band of shippers headed north and I sent Sara with them. Marissa still lived in the mountains and I sent a note saying she should help her mother. Sara protested, which shocked me to no end, but when I told her I was on my way to die, she relented.

Following the map I found myself at the old Capital Records building. How cliché. I pulled out the charm Hyan had made for me, trapping all the Fetches in a half mile radius on this plane and went to work. There were ten Greaters in the building, I could feel them upstairs, which made the Lessers livelier. But as lively as they were, an M4 on semi-automatic was more than they could handle.

I didn’t take the time to determine whether they were working with the Fetches or not, I didn’t have that luxury. On the top floor I broke into the conference room, or office, it was hard to tell, and found all ten Fetches waiting for me. They were relaxed, sipping amber liquid out of crystal glasses. There were elven chairs, one of them clearly waiting for me. The nearest Fetch, from an actor I didn’t remember the name of, indicated the chair.

I shot him between the eyes. I swung the barrel around the room shooting with a precision only twenty years of killing brings. They dove out of the way screaming for me to stop. I did, when there was one left.

“You didn’t need ten of you to talk to me. That was your mistake.” I said, rifle pointed at his chest.

He was plain, someone I was sure I had never seen before.

“We wanted to offer you a chance to join us, to rule ove—.” I shot him in the heart.

I had heard the pitch before and I had tortured the truth out as well. They would set me up, lull me, and then kill me. Problem for them was there is no amount of comfort or wealth that could convince me to side with them. That wouldn’t make a better world for Marissa.

Pushing through the glass doors out on to Vine St. I realized my mistake. They, the Greaters upstairs, had been the bait. Alric was the trap. He stood outside, the aura of evil causing the air around him to shimmer. I didn’t know what he’d joined with, or how he had changed so much but he didn’t even look human anymore. Well, he looked human but no one who saw what I saw would say he was human or even a Fetch.

I emptied my magazine into his chest. Thirty rounds of anti-personnel ammo turned his chest into ground hamburger. He smiled at me and advanced, I took off running to the left. My bike was to the right, but he would have too much of an angle in that direction and could cut me off. He was fast. Fast as me if not a little faster.

I crossed the street in front of a speeding truck and gained a few steps on him. I didn’t know the area and didn’t know how I was going to escape. I only had one trick up my sleeve and at most, with the demon Fetch on my tail, it would buy me half a minute. We ran for several long blocks, with him pacing me rather than trying to catch me. Like a cat toying with a mouse.

In front of me, across Sunset Blvd. there was a bank. I didn’t know what kind, the signage had fallen long ago but the dual ATMs set into the wall were clear markers. The glass doors were broken and I hurdled through looking for the vault. I took another ten steps, pulled the pin on my grenade and threw it at the entryway. It exploded as the Fetch appeared throwing him back out onto the street.


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