still here

I said it on Tuesday, and it’s true today. There was a reason last week’s story went missing. I liked it, but I like its replacement a lot more.

This is the follow-up to the story I started two weeks ago. I think it’s going to be a short series. We’ll see what happens.

I recommend reading the first part first. As soon as I have a name for the series, I’ll create a nice, neat link that’ll display all the stories in order so you don’t have to leap-frog back through previous posts to catch up.

As always, share your thoughts in the comments. Happy reading.

still here

I feel like we may have gotten off to a rough start. We only just met, and all you know about me is that I harbor deep suspicions where witches are concerned. It’s enough to make me sound like a castist.

Casterist? No. That can’t be right. Magicist? That sounds horrible.

Someone who discriminates against the magically inclined. There. Wordy, but better.

Thing is, that’s not me. I’m not a cynical person by nature. That’s how I get myself in these messes. I trust people because I genuinely want to. Sure, the masses are stupid and blind, but I like to think individual people are worth trusting.

Beside that, I’ve been discriminated against. It sucks. Even in the wake of Buffy and all her kick-assery there are plenty of people who hesitate to think a female can throw down against real monsters.

Granted, most of the world doesn’t even know monsters exist. We’re a small community, those of us in the know. That should draw us closer together, but it doesn’t. Everyone I’ve met like me – other hunters – we’re all in it for very personal reasons. There’s not a single banner for us to rally under.

Most of the hunters I’ve known were guys. Some were cool with my lack of a penis, and some were real asses about it. But even the ones who accepted me still took on a protective air. You know, like I would almost certainly need help when the shit hit the fan.

Because girl.

When I meet a witch, there’s a part of me that wants to sneer and say something tacky. I try to keep that part in check because I know it’s epically unfair to judge someone based on a single aspect of who they are. People are way more complex than that. Yes, even witches.

But as much as I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, I keep meeting witches that prove me wrong. I hate to think of myself as one to play into a negative stereotype, but I’ve yet to meet a single witch who wasn’t a back-stabbing bitch or bastard.

Gordon was no exception. He just played the game really well.

So well, in fact, that it wasn’t something he did that clued me in. Get ready for me to go all new-agey on you. It was a dream.

A dream about my dad.

I rarely see my dad in dreams, but I think about him damn near every day. He was a great man. I miss him more than I can express.

Ironically, seeing him in dreams is rarely a good thing. I think my psyche has adopted his presence as a sort of early warning system. When my subconscious knows something’s rotten in Denmark, it makes sure he has at least a bit part in an upcoming dream.

In this case, he only had one line.

I was at home. Not my home now. My home back when he was alive. My home as a kid. I was in the kitchen, and the place was a mess. There was clutter and filth everywhere, which was weird because he wasn’t the type to let things get out of hand like that.

It was dusk, but overcast. There were no pretty colors in the sky, no fire on the horizon. Everything looked and felt grey. I roamed around the den and the kitchen, trying to make sense of it, feeling thoroughly uneasy the whole time.

In the kitchen, I picked up a small bowl. It had left over food in it. Pudding or something. There was a tough skin on the top and I wondered who would have just left this on the counter.

And that’s when I realized it was a dream. I was holding the bowl with my adult hands, but I haven’t been in that house since I was 12.

I looked across the kitchen, toward the den, thinking of all the good times I had in that house. Without realizing I was doing it, I started talking.

“I know what’s bothering me,” I said to the house. “This is a good place. I was always comfortable here. Safe here. But it doesn’t feel safe now.”

I looked back down at the bowl. The hardened pudding was really bothering me, but cleaning it out meant turning around, toward the sink. My back would be to the house.

I decided I was being paranoid. Silly. Nothing in that house had ever hurt me. At least, not after my mom and dad split. There was no reason to be afraid.

So I turned to the sink, flipped on the water, and started spooning goo out of the bowl with my fingers. Then I noticed a glow coming in through the kitchen window.

There was my dad, standing in the middle of the back porch. He was haloed in light. I dropped the bowl into the sink and started babbling. I was crying as I spoke. I don’t know all of what I said. I only know seeing him hit me hard.

The only specific sentence I remember saying is this: “I miss you.”

And really, no matter what else I said, that’s what it all boils down to. I miss him to this day.

He was smiling as I spoke. It was a mischievous smile, good-natured and loving while still capturing a bit of the rascal I remember. When I stopped talking, his smile grew and he replied. He spoke for a bit, but like my own dialogue I can only tell you one thing I actually remember him saying.

“I’m still here.”

That’s it. Then it was curtains. Fade to black.

I woke up laying on my side, crying into the pillow. I thought about my daddy for a bit, wishing I could’ve had more time to talk to him, but I never get enough. I didn’t get enough in life, and my dreams are no more generous.

Then I remembered Gordon. The hunt. Where I was and what I was doing.

And that was when I knew something was about to go very wrong.

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