Mandy flung herself out the door. She leaned against the house, panting. She had to get away--from her mother and Mrs. Jacobson (her soon-to-be mother-in-law). She needed space from everyone, including her personal slave girl, Annie. They were suffocating her with excitement, details and plans for a wedding she didn’t want any part of, let alone as the bride.
The almost daily talks and dinners and samples had been going on for four weeks. Each mention of her pending nuptials to Samuel made Mandy’s stomach churn and drained the life from her complexion. Her mother asked if she was feeling well, and Mandy took that opportunity to excuse herself out back for a breath of fresh air.
Mandy closed her eyes, sighed to steady her breath. Things would be fine. She could live through this, she could make it out alive. She opened her eyes, looked out into the fields of the Jacobson plantation and saw him: a living Adonis carved from sleek black lacquer.
He stood in the field not too far from the main house. He was shirtless and in short trousers drawn so tight around the groin that it left little to the imagination. He was staring directly at Mandy with eyes that pierced her soul.
Yes, that’s what Mandy wanted. She licked her lips and walked towards him. He tilted his head as she stepped off the porch and advanced in his direction. He grinned. He knew what she was doing, why she was hasting out to see him, alone.
Mandy stopped a few feet from him. She inspected his charcoal-colored skin, his deep brown eyes and chiseled facial features. Yes, he would do. Even after all the days spent at the Jacobson plantation, she had never seen this Negro before. Was he new? Was he from another plantation on an errand for his master? She needed to know; if she was going to move in with the Jacobsons when she married, she had to know how deep was the water she was about to step into.
"Jinn Tales: Amie's Origin" is a short story set in the Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter universe. It tells of the birth of Amie, the Pleasant Jinn who fights alongside--and falls in love with--Dick Hunter in The Mort des Hommes Files and The Demonic Dozen.
He didn’t think he would survive. How could he? He was lost in a strange land; his belongings buried under a ton of sand. His throat burned and ached. His lungs felt ready to burst with sand. Thinking hurt. Breathing hurt. Everything hurt.
He was going to die.
The storm around him grew stronger. He sunk to his knees, his tattered clothes billowing around him. The sands burned his skin to the point he believed his flesh would melt off his bones. He could barely keep himself upright. The winds of the sandstorm forced him down; deeper and deeper into the land and hopelessness. Soon he would become one with the desert; trapped under a dune a mile high.
He closed his eyes, resigned to his fate. He took three deep breaths and nearly suffocated on sand. Then he opened his eyes.
To his astonishment, the sand formed a funnel; the wind gathering dust and insects and shrubbery into a vortex. He could hear nothing but the whoosh of the wind--until a voice clear as sunlight called his name. Was he hallucinating? Or was this an omen of his survival? He struggled to his feet. The voice called his name again, and then a third time.
The voice emanated from the tornado.
He took a shaky step towards it. Moving against the wind, he continued at a snail’s pace, one step at a time, towards the voice. And salvation? The voice continued to beckon him with sweet whispers. He obeyed. Even as the tornado began to alter shape.
The funnel twisted in its center and other points until it resembled a wet rag being wrung dry. The wind subsided and he was able to get a better view of the tornado, which began shrinking in height. He noticed it took the shape of a starfish.
He stumble-ran the final paces forward. Exhausted and spent, he fell at the feet of the humanoid form that had emerged from wind and sand. On his knees as if before royalty, he looked up and met the eyes of the loveliest woman he had ever seen.
“Welcome, Dominique,” the woman said, her voice a soothing lullaby. “You must be weary. Come, rest.”
Knowing not what else to do, Dominique reached up towards her. She engulfed him within the confines of sand and heat. The scent of juniper radiated off her body. She took him within her; she felt amazing. Although he knew boils and blisters would be the result, he couldn’t stop himself. Her coarse tongue tasted of far east spices he couldn’t pronounce. She was the best he ever had. Yet, in the back of his mind, Dominique knew that the consequences would be painful and deadly. Still he refused to pull out.
*Author's note: This story takes place in the Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter universe. It is the origin story of Mort des Hommes, the antagonist in the first book, The Mort des Hommes Files. The sequel, The Demonic Dozen, will be released March 7, 2017.
The talking pigeon was really an Aura elemental familiar under contract with Guy. There are six types of elementals, and they often times work with Jinn--Pleasant and Wicked--to help them complete missions. They’re needed in order to weaken or seal Jinn. Well, from my experience, they were necessary as distractions, so to speak. Just another body for the enemy to fight while the human of the group attempts to seal or weaken the Jinn.
I could go on about elementals and sealing Jinn and shit, but I already covered that enough in the previous book. You guys should go check that out if you hadn’t already.
But the main thing was that this filthy little pigeon had some valuable information. Apparently, there’s a new designer drug that hit the streets of Baltimore called sublime. It’s a pill people ingest. According to the Aura, sublime alters the body, I think something to do with dumping extra adrenaline into the blood, and the blimer (the person who’s popping sublime--seriously, I couldn’t make this shit up even if I tried) gets the strength of Superman, able to lift cars and shit. And they get hungry. Blimers get a strange craving for human flesh, and they have the strength to bite off large chunks with their teeth. Not pretty.
So yeah, that’s really a fucked up situation in Charm City. NARCs were up to their chests in cases, the police commissioner and mayor were under scrutiny, and folks were dying by the scores--getting eaten alive. Often by their buddy they just popped sublime with. There were hunger houses--basically crack houses for blimers--all over the city, thanks to about 1,500 or so blighted and condemned houses. Once uncovered, they’d be two or three or more half and fully devoured bodies found in them. Disturbing shit.
Before he left for Seattle, Guy had felt the presence of two demons in Baltimore. However, he didn’t have an agitator or a Thanos Stone or even the humans to wield them. Which was why he told his Aura to keep tabs on things in Tubman City while he went to gather Amie and I from the west coast. I wished he had said something earlier. Jinn and their goddamn secrets.
Guy definitely thought it was the Addiction demon that was spreading around sublime. Only a demon could manufacture a drug with an agent that could alter human physiology as drastically as sublime did, or so said Guy. Amie agreed with him. I just kept quiet, looking pretty, because I had no idea what they were talking about.
Anyway, the next day Guy’s Aura returned with more news for us . . .
“Guy, Guy,” squawks the Aura. “I overheard this from one of the dealers. There is a big shipment of sublime coming tonight at the docks. Taj, the biggest sublime supplier in the city, is always there during a shipment.”
Guy nods and throws a handful of bread crumbs at it. “Merci. You have done well. Time for rest, non?”
The pigeon mumbles, “Thank you,” as it eagerly pecks at the crumbs.
Guy joins Amie and me at the kitchen table. “You suspect this Taj guy is really Addiction?” I say.
“Oui. And if he is not, the real demon will most likely be the one dropping off the large shipment.”
“I wonder why all the subterfuge,” I say. “If the demon is manufacturing sublime, why go through all the trouble of having it shipped in?”
Guy shrugs. Amie says, “That’s a good question. Maybe the shipment is only the materials needed to manufacture sublime.”
Eh, that’s a sickening thought. I remember the ingredients Mort used to make his hellhound canines. I’m sure what the demon uses to make sublime is nasty, and possibly human.
“Well, there’s only one way to find out.”
Guy laughs and shakes his head at me. Then he gets up from the table. “I am going to pray and cleanse myself for tonight.”
Amie gets up too. “I’m going to mediate.”
They both walk out of the kitchen, leaving me alone with a damn pigeon.
I had a couple of hours to kill, so I decided to go out for a walk. The city seemed, I don’t know, nicer since the last time I visited. The area was relatively clean for a city with over half a million people. I didn’t know where I was going, so I just kept walking. Somehow my feet led me to a bar.
I went in, sat at the counter, and ordered a whiskey on the rocks. An Orioles game played on a big flat screen TV behind the bar. I sipped my drink and got lost in the strikes and balls.
I admit, I was a bit put off how Amie just left me right after Guy got up. Was I jealous? Slightly. But those two knew things I didn’t. They both have lived hundreds of years. One was a Jinn possessing unbelievable magic, the other was formerly a Jinn. I was the odd man out in this threesome; I was the third wheel.
Into my fourth drink I realized alcohol wasn’t going to change any of that. Wasn’t going to help it any, either. I paid my tab and then shuffled on back to Guy’s apartment.
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