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Clutch

Flash fiction, from The Galean Universe.

Pixabay

June 13, 1997
Richmond, Virginia

The heavy rain soaked through her clothes as Cosima hurried down the darkened street. She clutched her swollen, pregnant stomach in a bare-knuckled attempt to keep warm, but it was more than just chills that shivered through her body. She silently thanked the powers-that-be that Rurik had had the foresight to book a hotel room. Just in case.

He’d seen this coming.

She’d been naive.

Again.

She hadn’t expected the warmest welcome when she showed up at her parent’s house with eight months worth of news in her belly, but she hadn’t expected an all out war to take place.

Cosima ducked under the cover of a bus stop and dug through her pockets for whatever change she had left so she could call Rurik on the payphone. Walking the rest of the way in the rain was out of the question, and he wasn’t supposed to show up to the house for another hour.

She was supposed to break the news and lay the groundwork, then he would show up and she’d introduce him.

Baby steps.

Baby steps were blown sky high the second her sister laid eyes on her. Twin sister.

Twin twat, to be more precise.

Seventeen and pregnant wasn’t a great look, but after being shipped off to live with her aunt in Ireland when she was four and all but extradited from the immediate family, they owed her at least civility. She thought they’d her mum would at least want to try to be part of her granddaughter’s life.

Wrong.

Wrong on every level.

She regretted leaving Ireland and coming back here. She regretted wanting her own family back in her life.

She didn’t regret Rurik, or the baby, or her aunt. That’s where she’d go back to.

She dialed the hotel and the room extension.

He answered before the first ring was done.

“Come get me.” Her words were broken. Mangled. “I’m at the bus stop two streets down Mum’s.”

“I’ll be there in ten minutes,” he said, and hung up. He didn’t ask questions. He didn’t waste time with niceties or ‘calm downs’ or explanations.

He acted. He was good at that. That was one of the things she loved about him. He’d never stop her from doing anything, but he’d lay the mattress down on the ground for her inevitable fall, and laugh about it afterwards.

There was no laughing this time.

She put the phone back in the cradle and let out a breath. The rain pelted down, beating against the glass. It was hot and humid, but she was cold and shaking.

Of course it would be raining, on top of everything else. It was only fitting, right? A kicking baby dancing on her bladder, a sister who wanted her dead because she was born different, a mother who didn’t have the balls to stand up for her own child even after a decade, and, of course, rain.

Bloody brilliant.

A pair of headlights appeared down the street and she pushed the doors of the phone booth open and stepped out, but the car rolled on by.

It wasn’t him.

She went to get back in the booth, because it was warmer than the waiting bench but the glass exploded in a spray of shards. It was all a blur. Time slowed down in that single second.

She didn’t hear the shot, but felt a series of pinches spray across her leg, like ant bites. A flash of light flickered from the corner of her eye. Glass melded with the rain and she felt it hit her face, like rain. Like razor sharp rain. Her heart stuttered and her joints locked up.

For a handful of seconds she was completely frozen in place, and it felt like hours before the blood rushed back to her limbs and she dashed away from the booth as fast as she could and whirled around.

She was standing in the middle of the street now, a bad place to be because there, not twenty feet away, was Fae, with their Dad’s shotgun in her hands.

Fae pointed the gun at her. Her harms didn’t tremble, her gaze didn’t waver, but anger radiated off of her.

A blind man could feel that rage.

Cosima raised her hands in defense, because that was all she could do. Any other day she’d be gone so fast Fae wouldn’t be able to see her to shoot her, but with the baby, she couldn’t move that fast.

“You’re taking this a little far aren’t you,” she said.

“Shut up!” Fae screamed. Her voice melded with a clap of thunder.

“I didn’t ask to be born a shape-shifter!” she yelled back at her.

“You’re just another monster,” Fae hissed, “and I’m not going to let another one into this family.”

She didn’t waver.

She didn’t hesitate.

She pulled the trigger.

The blast was lost in the sound of the storm. The street was dark. No cameras. No lights. No nearby houses with creeping neighbors. No passerby’s.

A pair of headlights appeared down the road and Fae ducked into the shrubbery and cut through the woods to get back to her house. Her fingers twisted around the barrel of the gun. She left her sister laying in the middle of the road, clutching her bleeding stomach.

She didn’t look back.


JLRose is a fantasy writer, game designer and 3D artist living in Melbourne, Australia. She’s spent the past three years working on the first book of The Galean Universe and is currently querying to agents. 
She’s also working on an untitled comic and a new series of erotica.