What’s that famous human thief’s name again? Oh yeah, Robin Hood.
I felt like him as I snuck inside Amanda’s house. Or maybe like a husband who’s sneaking back into his house after a night of drinking with friends. Or maybe that kid who snuck out to go to a concert.
You get the point.
I actually made it a game to see if I could avoid the angry goddess, change into fresh clothes, and hop into bed. Most of the time, Amelia is in her own room, asleep. Other times, she’d be waiting for me. This was one of those “other” times.
She was sitting on my bed. My eyes widened at the sight of a flat-screen HDTV mounted on my wall. Some network thing called Netflix showcased a list of TV-shows and movies. The highlighter stopped on episode thirty-five of some romance drama. Shit.
“Is that a smart TV?” I said. “That’s badass.”
Amelia gave me a blank stare before getting straight to the point. “Where have you been all night?”
I picked up a faint whiff of popcorn. Movie night, huh? Really, missing that left no hole in me.
“It’s a long story,” I said, walking toward the bathroom, ready to shower.
“Let’s hear it,” Amelia said, with ice in her voice. The doors slammed shut from a telekinetic use of force.
I turned to her. “I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear any of my beer stories, so let’s cut to the part where I shower and rest up.” I felt Amelia’s wrath stir, but continued. “I’m not some bottled-up child.”
“Why are you out so late?” she said, through clenched teeth. I put two hands in the air playfully.
“All right,” I said, with a light chuckle. “I got a job, okay?” She blinked twice, her expression showing surprise. “I’m not a princess or some damsel in distress. I thought about what you told me and this is my start at moving up in life. I even bought myself a smartphone.”
Amelia nodded in understanding, a small smile on her face as I wiggled the phone. She snatched the device from my hand, unlocked it, added her phone number, and tossed it back to me. The doors opened. “Get some rest. We’ll talk about this later.” She got up to leave, but not before planting a wet kiss on my forehead. In a swift motion, she snatched my badge from my pocket, inspected it, gave a smiling nod of approval then handed it back to me as she continued forward.
I turned around to watch her from behind as she headed out. That ass.
“I know you’re staring at my butt,” she said, as she disappeared around the corner. I laughed.
I woke up from a dreamless slumber, thanks to a buzzing phone. I glanced at it. A text from my boss. She wanted to meet with everyone this afternoon, to discuss battle tactics and recruitment. Fuck, did she not know that some of us had lives? It was time to take some of the money she paid me and blow it on something. Maybe snacks, human-made swords, or beer?
It was a little after twelve. I brushed up, changed into sweatpants and a white shirt that said, “I AM THE WORLD” engraved on the front of it in black letters. Black running shoes went with the matching sweatpants quite well. I met Keisha and Jade in the hall.
“Morning,” they said.
“Morning to you,” I replied. “How are things?”
Jade glared before responding. “Where are you off to?”
“Got a meeting with my boss,” I said.
“Really, now, and what kind of burger joint are we talking here?” Keisha said, smiling.
“I’m a special agent for a private police-like force,” I said, flashing my badge. Their jaws dropped. “Should you really be surprised? I’m a demigod. I maybe don’t like my father or many of the assholes of Paradise Realm, but I still gravitate toward fighting for what’s right.”
Jade smirked. “I do love a man in uniform.”
I laughed. “If you don’t mind, ladies, I’ve got to get going.”
They frowned as I hurried out of there before my ego skyrocketed, as I realized just how kickass my job was. Sort of. If you don’t count the bullshit that came attached with it.
Amony’s dwelling was a ten to fifteen-minute walk from Amanda’s house, past the park, through a few mildly populated blocks, past gas stations, banks, and eventually to a glass two-story building called Secure Corps. A normal private security ordeal was just simply a guise over the occult. Destroying Sunset wasn’t the only goal, of course, but Sin encouraged the witch to prioritize it. And she does. I still debated if those two were… Never mind.
I placed my badge in front of a scanner on the door. It beeped and opened. The front lobby was like one you’d see at a five-star hotel, equipped with an attendant sitting at the front desk. Smooth marble floors, crystal-glass windows. This place looked as if someone mopped and waxed it on the hour, every hour. Empty, soft, cotton-topped red chairs paraded the lobby to look as if lines of clients occupied them every day. And there were some, every now and then. Our stupid jobs came from somewhere.
The attendant’s pretty face seemed to light up as she greeted me with a warm smile and said, “Hi Agent Epex.”
Mickey appeared to be somewhere in her twenties and looked like a fitness instructor. Apparently, I was the only one who didn’t give her chills —I felt that. And her body wasn’t wrong, either —witches, demi-devil, even a human-world demon could trigger its instincts subconsciously. The human woman was better off not knowing anything of the occult.
“Hey Mickey,” I said. “How’s life treating you?”
“Pretty good,” she said. “Got some family visiting.”
After I waved her off, I continued to the conference room. Amony, Sin, and Elly were sitting at the table. As soon as I took a seat, the boss began.
“My sources have confirmed a possible location of Sunset. We don’t have information on them yet, like, say, for that devil leader’s name. Not even Elly knows. But what we do know is that the organization meets almost daily. They discuss Hell’s politics, own a few illegal drug factories, stuff like that. Many of them are murderers and rapists, and they seem to be up to something big. My sources don’t know what, yet. For now, I’m going to do some recruiting. In the meantime, I want you all to be vigilant. Look for anything out of place around the city. If you can’t handle it on your own, you have each other’s numbers. Get back-up immediately.”
After babbling on for a good twenty minutes, she opened the floor for discussion. We did so for about an hour before finally getting dismissed.
I headed back to Amanda’s house. No one was there, so I decided to charge my sword. The progressive charging went great, but not at the pace I needed. This shit would take years if I didn’t utilize a source. It also needed a name. Names are like reserves of power, for special weapons like this sword.
Well, the real reason is because I wanted it to become legend. Even if I’m partially immortal, I could pass it down to the kid that I’d eventually have, that is, if I somehow survived Paradise Realm’s onslaught.
Fingers crossed. Let’s call the sword, Ruin. Because after I’m done forging this baby, any hostile heavenly-being would have quite the ruined day getting near me. At least I hoped.
I sat on the floor in a lotus position while I charged for another ten minutes or so, but only grew even more irritated at the turtlish speed. Yes, I know that is not a word. Sue me. Let me also reiterate the fact that it took me years to charge the amount of power that had halted Conus. Years!
I felt Amelia’s holy presence seconds before I was engulfed in some sweet-smelling, princess-grade perfume as she hovered over me.
“What are you doing?” she said. I looked up into sparkling green eyes.
“Amelia, let’s go to church.”
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Alvin Atwater is a man of humor, a starving author. With a unique writing style that can outshine even Jim Butcher, Patria Briggs, or Kevin Hearne, he is a character-driven lovable lump of mass. Born in Florida, he's on a mission to defeat his arch nemesis, Florida Man, once and for all.
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Author of the Blood for Soul series and a secret coming-of-the-age epic fantasy. Lover of anime and manga: so yeah, weeb shit? Fun. Sue me haha.
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