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THE METATRON MYSTERIES
By James Glass
John Smith looked at his silent phone and tried to scratch his back. It had always itched for as long as he could remember – which was not a particularly long time – and his extensive collection of back-scratchers were no help. He’d spent hundreds of dollars he didn’t have on massage sessions asking only that the masseuse scratch him as hard as they could. Sometimes with a fork.
He took out the serrated knife tied securely to a stick and began to run the teeth over his reddened flesh. He had been to countless dermatologists and doctors. The conclusion was always the same; it must be a result of the accident that had left him in a coma for two weeks. After the coma he woke with no memory of who he was, no one to claim him, and two long scars running the length of either side of his back. They itched like hell, dammit.
As a means of becoming a productive member of society, John Smith managed to get his private investigator’s license to support himself. That is, after the initial awakening and subsequent lack of family interest following hundreds of media ads with his picture and description spread around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and the surrounding cities of Baltimore, Harrisburg, York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.
The first were likely pity cases, a small town trying to help the underdog. Gradually those cases dried up and the money put into savings for a rainy day was now being eaten up paying the rent, electricity, and phone for his office space. An office space he recently began using as an apartment, since the hospital told him it was time to leave the nest.
He glanced at the phone one more time then turned to the stack of newspapers that outlined his accident. It was referred to as an ‘accident’ because he had come out of his coma with no memory and thus no way to confirm or deny the suspicion he saw in everyone’s eyes. The details and those looks told him he had tried to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge and into a river.
The devil was in the details, as always. The only snag in his theory was that there had been no note, and the bridge wasn’t very high — certainly not high enough to kill a man from the jump alone, and the rocks beneath the surface of the water had only left the two long scars down his back as a souvenir.
He scratched at the scars again as he read the specifics one more time, cross-referencing with his notes. “Unidentified Man Falls from Bridge” and “Man Who Fell from Bridge Still in Coma”. Not much coverage, he thought bleakly, but then if his life had been worthless to him at one point, how could he expect more from the media?
With a growl he threw the papers into the trash and stared up at the ceiling. He prayed someone would hire him soon.
Pazuzu was tired…. He glanced up briefly from his ponderings as a man exited the shadows of the doorway across the street and splashed through puddles of streetlight.
“That is the one,” Pazuzu’s companion hissed.
With a sigh Pazuzu snuffed out his cigarette in the palm of his hand. He had hoped they would be able to lurk a bit longer. Opportunities for outings were few and far between back home.
“Are you sure?”
“Of course I am sure. He wears an overcoat.”
“Very well,” Pazuzu said.
He pushed away from the cool concrete of the building they had chosen several hours before, the perfect lurking spot, and a charred outline was left in his wake. The smoke emanating from the outline smelled of fire and sulfur.
Pazuzu had his doubts about his companion’s positive identification of their target based on the man’s attire, but remained quiet. He had not been topside for many years, and who was he to argue that the man might not, in fact, wear an overcoat? They had watched all the movies from Hollywood, and in the movies the detectives all wore overcoats.
They’d followed the man in the overcoat for several blocks when Marduk stumbled over a large bit of trash and the man stiffened. When he turned to face them, Pazuzu flashed a menacing grin. With a cry of terror the man pulled a glinting metal object from beneath his overcoat and pointed it at them.
Pazuzu paused with a feeling that was more instinct than foreknowledge gripping his insides. His companion was less cautious. Pazuzu had learned during the Inquisition that humans were bold when they had a weapon, and from the way the man stood he knew the metal object had to be a weapon.
There was a loud bang and flash from the object and Pazuzu’s companion flinched backward, clutching at his chest where a heart might have beaten.
“Hellfire and brimstone that hurts!”
The human unleashed the weapon again, this time at Pazuzu. He sidestepped the projectile and shook his head at the man in disapproval. When the man ran he turned his attention back to his companion who was writhing on the ground. “Are you hurt, Marduk?”
His companion glared up at him, silver blood glinting over now carnivorous teeth. “Of course I’m hurt! What was that thing?” he snarled as he climbed to his feet.
Pazuzu shrugged. “I am unsure. Possibly one of those guns we viewed in the films? Luckily it was a small one.”
“Small? I assure you, the pain is not small.”
Again, Pazuzu shrugged. “You must be more careful when dealing with humans,” he said, “They may seem incapable of harming us, but they are dangerous to both themselves and to us.”
“Lesson learned,” Marduk hissed and wiped silvery blood from the front of his shirt. “Damn it, I liked this shirt,” he said with an angry pout.
Pazuzu shook his head and removed a soft pack of cigarettes, tapping one from the open portion of the pack and inserting it between his thin lips. He flicked the long fingernails of his right hand together and flames sprang up to meet the tip of the cigarette. He inhaled deeply and stared in fascination at the plumes of exhaled smoke.
“How long has it been since you were last topside?” Marduk asked him.
Pazuzu squinted up at the night sky, considering the question. He took another drag on his cigarette, exhaled, and responded, “A century or more? I don’t know. Time is meaningless.”
“So how did you know to avoid the weapon?”
The demon smiled and his wings twitched beneath his shirt.
“When a human aims something at one’s person, one can safely assume it is a weapon. One should therefore make haste to avoid having it pointed at oneself.”
“Good advice,” Marduk said as he lit his own cigarette. He gave a cough of anger as smoke swirled out of the hole in his back and chest where the bullet had pierced him.
“Damnation,” he muttered, “When we catch that little prick I’m going to kill him.”
“I believe we need to remember our mission, Marduk. And I do not think that was our man.”
John Smith was not a run-of-the-mill P.I. At least he didn’t think so. His exaggerated opinion of himself had not, however, been paying the bills since he woke from his coma, and the ad that told the masses how good he was had only helped to get the electricity turned off in the end. Luckily he kept office hours during the afternoon and his office had a southern exposure, so lighting was not a problem… but coffee was.
He glanced up from the magazine on his desk. The one he kept in his desk drawer for occasions when he wanted to appear busy – in case a client walked in, he told himself. The phone on his desk rang a second time and it took a moment longer for the sound to register in his brain. On the third ring he picked it up and held it to his ear.
“Mr. Smith?” the voice on the other end sounded tinny and far away.
Suzi M is the author of the short story
BLOOD IN THE WATER
NEW Vampire Anthology
She is also the author of
BLOOD IN THE WATER
The roar of the boat engine cut out, leaving only the slapping of waves against the sides of the craft. Lilith closed her eyes with relief and embraced the brief silence.
She could feel the eyes of the crew crawling over the back of her wetsuit and a cold smile lit her features for the briefest of moments until she remembered why she was on a boat a few miles off the coast of Rhode Island. She had business to attend and possible miles to go before she could enjoy any pleasure. She would wait.
She acknowledged the ship’s captain without taking her gaze off the surface of the water and mentally checked their position. If the notes had been correct, they were close to their target.
“We’ve reached the coordinates you gave us.”
She tapped her long, red-lacquered nails against the boat’s railing as she contemplated the ocean. It occurred to her that time had the uncanny ability to slip away unnoticed in a way that was akin to a one-night stand sneaking out of bed in the wee hours of the morning. Lilith contemplated her own lost time and sighed. Millennia had crept by unnoticed since she last considered ruling mankind and since she had tried to reunite her brethren. She had lost track of them, assumed they had all been killed in the Flood, until a writer in the 20th century gave her reason to believe they might be very much alive somewhere. With the blink of an eye she was back in the present moment and staring out at the sea, closing in on her goal.
She made a show of sniffing the air, but in reality she was opening herself up in a way that she had reserved only for one man over the years. Her eyes snapped open and she sucked in air. It was faint but it was there, beneath the waves. The stories had all been true and the writer she had tortured for the information all those years ago had not been lying. She glanced again at the long-dead writer’s journal and gave a slow nod.
Turning back to the captain she said, “We need to go one more mile in that direction.”
She pointed further out and the captain’s expression shifted. “Why over there, if you don’t mind my asking, ma’am?”
Lilith closed the distance between them and leaned in close. The tension she felt coming off the man was like an electric storm and it excited her. There was a pale mark shining on his left ring finger where he had pried off his wedding band as she had stepped onto the deck of his boat, and she knew she could have him if she wanted him. She drank in the energy that emanated from the entire crew like steam off of a cup of hot coffee and relaxed just a little. She was always a bitchy flirt when she was hungry. With effort she forced her fangs to stay put so her smile would not appear odd to the already skittish sailors.
“I do mind your asking, Captain. I chartered this boat for a reason, and it wasn’t to get questioned.” READ MORE
Lurking in a Pennsylvania town near historic Gettysburg, Suzi M is weaving webs of horror: including gothic, noir, ghosts, demons, angels, occult, and the occasional historic and/or post-apocalyptic thriller. Her storytelling has been compared to that of Tanith Lee and HP Lovecraft. Suzi’s writing explores the thrill and the secrecy; the untold mysteries waiting in the shadows. In addition to a few other humans, including the tiny Hypnospawn, Suzi shares her home with a 30lb black house panther named Mr. Pants. When she’s not busy with her own work or getting pictures and autographs with people who recognize her on the street, Suzi helps support the efforts of independent artists, writers, musicians, and film-makers. She is also a self-described “fiberfreak,” finding time to spin, knit, crochet or weave when the muse allows. She will most likely achieve fame and fortune with her hand-crafted socks.
The INTERVIEW with Fiona
Name Suzi M
Age: old enough
Where are you from: New York City
A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect
Suzi lives with her husband, son, and house panther in the wilds of Pennsylvania. When not writing she enjoys reading, spinning yarn, and knitting lace. She has also released several stories and novellas under the names Xircon and James Glass.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Suzi: Working on several new projects, one is the next installment of the Murdered Metatron. The most recent works are ‘The Vampire of Plum Run’ written as James Glass, and my story ‘Blood in the Water’ was just released in the Wrapped in Red vampire anthology.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Suzi: I started writing in high school. Come to think of it, I wrote NEMESIS, the first book in my Immortal War series, in my senior year. My writing came about as a side effect of my English teacher trying to coax me to use a new technology: a laptop. Man, that makes me feel old as hell.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Suzi: When it became clear that calling myself an ‘epic storyteller’ left people confused.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Suzi: My 12th grade English teacher, though I have to admit my intention was not to write an entire novel at the time.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Suzi: I have several specific writing styles, it just depends what name I’m writing under at the time.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Suzi: Going with the main character’s name for the title seemed like a good way to go.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Suzi: Yes and no. Depending on the story, sometimes it’s just a story. Since I have several novels and novellas, it’s hard to choose just one and say ‘This is the message’ because each reader will infer his or her own meaning from the work, regardless of what I might say. If someone contacts me to discuss my work, I’m happy to discuss their interpretation versus how I felt about it, but I won’t spoonfeed my readers.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Suzi: Again, depends on which book or novella we’re talking about. For example, my post-apocalyptic novella ‘The Lazarus Stone’ (written as Xircon) was very much realistic. I put a lot (maybe too much) research into it to the point I have a pretty decent description of how to build a functioning fallout shelter. My vampire novels feature formerly real places in New York, but it was a landscape that existed well over a decade ago. A lot has changed since then.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Suzi: I never kiss and tell. READ MORE