The Whole Truth

This little story was inspired by a prompt from Tomi Adeyemi’s site.

**

“You only heard his side,” Mykolas Balchunas said, his voice strained.  He slapped fisted hands down on the table and shook his head.  “You don’t know the truth.”

Detective Hale frowned at Balchunas.  Normally, he was such a mild-mannered person.  He ran a café.  He baked cookies and made regional food.  He should be the last sort of person to have repeated run-ins with the police.  Yet, somehow, here he was once again.  This time, he was even sitting in an interrogation room.

Actually, it was showing Detective Hale a side of the quiet baker that he’d never imagined.  Blachunas might be placid and easy-going when he was dealing with customers at his café.  However, when he felt like there was an injustice going on, he wasn’t the sort to back down.  He was not a push-over and he wouldn’t allow anyone to run rough-shod over him.  He was quiet, but he had nerves of steel.

“I haven’t heard your side of things,” Detective Hale said, nodding.  His brows furrowed.  “Your side of the things is more truthful than his is?”

Balchunas clenched his jaw and seemed to take a moment to center himself.  When he spoke again, it was in his normal, gentle tones.  “There are things he doesn’t know,” he said, shaking his head.  “He told the truth as he saw it, but… it wasn’t the whole truth, because he didn’t see what he thought he saw.”

Detective Hale frowned at Balchunas for a moment.  Then, he leaned forward.  “What is the whole truth, then?” he asked, his voice soft.

For a moment, he wasn’t sure that Balchunas would say anything.  Then, the young man released a shuddering breath and nodded.  “If you need to verify what I’m telling you, contact Henry Shepherd with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” he said, his voice soft.  “It’s something that sounds… insane, actually.  That’s why I’m telling you to verify with him.”

“Fair enough,” Detective Hale said, nodding.

Balchunas closed his eyes.  “There are, in this world, demons, Detective,” he said, his voice soft.  “There are ghosts and spirits and a host of incorporeal beings that are not visible to everyone.  Of those, demons are the most dangerous.”

He looked up at Detective Hale, meeting his gaze.  “Just as there are beings of evil, there are forces of good that are called upon to counter them,” he said.  His brow furrowed and he shook his head.  “I didn’t kill anyone, Detective Hale.  I also didn’t hide any body so that there wouldn’t be evidence of a murder.  What Mr. Jones saw was a demon inhabiting a corpse.”

“What?” Detective Hale said, frowning.  “Like a zombie?”

For a moment, Balchunas chewed at his lip.  Then, he shook his head.  “Zombies are corpses animated through the magic of a wizard,” he said, his voice soft.  “These would be more properly termed revenants, although we call them Singers.”

“So… you killed the demon?”

“I damaged the corpse, so that the demon had to repair it before it could continue its attack,” Balchunas said.  He shrugged.  “Then… I purified the corpse of the evil inhabiting it.  The body is gone because the act of purification is so powerful that the corpse was consumed.”

“And the demon?”

“Is in the Abyss, Detective,” Balchunas said, his voice faint.  He shook his head.  “I didn’t kill anyone because the person Mr. Jones says he saw me attack… was already dead.  The demon killed him by ripping out his heart and consuming it.”

Detective Hale stared at Balchunas for a moment longer.  Then, he said, “Wait here, Mr. Balchunas.”  When the young man nodded, he stood and left the room.  For some reason that he couldn’t quite explain, he believed the story.  As insane as it sounded, it made sense.  The man Balchunas was supposed to have killed had been missing for a week.  Jones had said his clothing was torn and blood-stained on the chest.  Not only that, the man had been, by all accounts, a gentle person who fed ducks and birds in a local park.  Why would he have attacked Balchunas in the first place?

He grimaced at his partner and nodded.  “I believe him,” he said.  When she smiled weakly, he said, “I’ve got to call Agent Shepherd and get some verification, but I believe him, Miriam.”

“I’ll wait until you’ve got the verification you need before I go and speak with him,” she said, folding her hands on her desk and watching him expectantly.  Detective Hale knew that Miriam had believed Balchunas couldn’t be a murderer from the beginning.  It made him wonder what she knew that he didn’t.

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No Reasonable Choice

This little story was inspired by a prompt from Tomi Adeyemi’s site.  This story… is kind of an alternate universe of the world with the Cross families.

**

Konrad skidded to a stop as he came around the corner.  He could see a figure in front of him, but he couldn’t make out who it was.  It was simply too bright him to make out those kinds of details.  He held his breath, waiting for some hint as to who he was facing: friend or foe?

“I’m sorry, Konrad,” a soft, familiar voice said.  “I can’t let you get away.”

He released a shuddering breath and shook his head.  “Miriam?” he said, his voice cracking.  She stepped closer to him, moving into shadows deep enough for him to see better.  She was holding a rifle in both hands, pointing it at him.  He stared at the barrel of her gun as he fell to his knees.  “You don’t have to do this.”

Tears stung her eyes.  She breathed deeply, aiming the rifle at his skull.  “I wish that were true.”

Konrad squeezed his eyes closed and bit his lip, bracing for the sound of the gunshot.  Would he feel it when she shot him?  He wasn’t certain.  Actually, he wasn’t even sure he would hear the gun go off.  It might be so quick that he wouldn’t have time to register sound. He released a shaky breath when she called for the others, rather than shooting him.

In moments, he could hear other people arriving on the scene.  A part of him was relieved, but he was also frustrated and angry.  He felt someone set a hand on his shoulder.  “Get on your feet, Konrad,” Henry said, his voice gentle.

“Teva, please,” Konrad said, his voice cracking.

Henry sighed and then strong arms were pulling Konrad to his feet.  He didn’t struggle as he was guided back towards the holding area.  He stumbled when he was pushed through the doors of the cell and into the stone room he’d so recently escaped.  The door closed with an ominous sound.  His fear gone, Konrad whirled around.

“This isn’t right,” he protested.  “Teva, you know this is wrong!  I haven’t committed any crime or broken any laws!”  In a softer voice, he added, “None of us have.”

“Give it time, Konrad,” Henry said, his voice so faint that Konrad could hardly hear him.  The problem was, they didn’t have a lot of time.  Konrad could feel it: Johannes needed him.  He was alone out there, without his defenders to protect him and Singers chasing him.

Konrad cursed softly and sat down on the ground, not caring if he got his clothing dirty at that point.  What did it matter? He was already covered in dirt and dust.  “Locking us up won’t stop them,” he said, his voice cracking.  “We’re the only ones that can stop them and we can’t do that from in here!”

He cursed again when no one answered him.  He squinted through the bars of the cell where he was being held.  At least it was dim enough here for him to see fairly well.  Petras was in the cell across from his.  From what he could tell, his elder cousin was still unconscious from when he’d been captured.

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The Right Conditions

Just a random story… kind of a continuation of the cozy mystery that I wrote for the Genre Stretch.

**

Mykolas wasn’t a warrior.  Generally, he left the fighting to his brothers and his younger cousins.  After all, they were his defenders.  It was there job to protect him when Singer attacked.  He hadn’t been lying when he said that he wasn’t afraid of a fight.  It just wasn’t something he relished either.  At the same time, given the right conditions, even the most gentle person will fight.  He had never encountered that circumstance for himself, until that day.

It was a relatively normal day.  He was delivering coffee and a box of pastries – donuts, ironically – to the police station nearest his shop when he sensed a Singer.  Normally, he would have retreated to his car and raced to wherever his nearest defender was.  What stopped him from doing that now was the presence of a familiar face.

“What is that singing?” a soft voice with a lilting accent asked.

Mykolas gasped, his heart hammering in his chest.  “Detective Stanton,” he rasped.  He saw her eyes glaze over as the Singer’s melody ensnared her.  Biting off a curse, he began singing the counter-melody.  Even as the detective shook herself, he saw the figure of the demon come into view.  It smiled at him as it walked towards them with slow, deliberate steps.

Detective Stanton spun to see what Mykolas was staring at and breathed a curse.  “Stay back,” she snapped, drawing her weapon.

A part of Mykolas wanted to tell her that wouldn’t help.  Singers didn’t, generally speaking, stop very long from gunshot wounds.  In fact, all it generally succeeded in doing was making them angry.  However, he was still singing counter to what the demon was trying to do, so he couldn’t warn her.

Mykolas did the next best thing.  Still singing, he raised his hand and summond the power of the sealing ring he wore.  As far as he knew, there were only three that were still in the hands of their True Crosses and only his had been fully activated.  He mimed drawing back a bow and a glowing arrow flared to life.

“What the…” Detective Stanton rasped.

For an instant, Mykolas stopped singing to say, “Down!”  As Detective Stanton dropped to a crouched position, he released the arrow.  It sank into the Singer’s body.  It fell with a strangled cry and Mykolas sang the purification song.  As the demon vanished in a shower of light, Mykolas breathed a sigh of relief.

He looked at Detective Stanton and said, “Are you all right?”  She’d asked exactly that at nearly the same moment.  Laughing wryly, Mykolas nodded.  “I’m fine, Detective.  That… was a demon that we call a Singer.”

“I’d heard of them, but I’d never seen one,” she said.  She stepped over to him and smiled.  “Given the circumstances, I think you can call me Miriam.”

“Kolas,” he said, offering his hand.  As she took it, he kissed the back of her hand gently.  When she arched her brows, he shrugged.  “It’s my father said we should greet a lady,” he explained.

“And what does the lady do in return?” Miriam asked, smirking.

Mykolas gave a weak laugh.  “If you’re very lucky, she doesn’t slap you across the face,” he said, shrugging.

“I would say that you were most fortunate, Kolas,” Miriam said, her voice soft.  Then, she crossed her arms over her chest.  “You are also just full of surprises.  I wouldn’t mind hearing more about those arrows… over coffee?”

“I know just the place,” Mykolas said.  He smiled and offered Miriam his arm.  Sometimes, it wasn’t such a bad thing to fight.