Blood on the Moon (originally posted December 2010)

Blood on the Moon (originally posted December 2010)

Edit December 2017: Cast the Cards has gone out of print, but I want this to continue to be available.

To celebrate the lunar eclipse and the solstice, have a little fortune teller and mindreader story. If you enjoy what you see here, do consider “Blazing Star” in Cast the Cards, which is about the same two characters.

Hope rode hard through the day and all through the night as above her the moon passed through the Earth’s shadow. Past two a.m., her thighs cramped with the cold and the long ride, and though she had only gassed up an hour or so back, she pulled off the highway at a deserted scenic overlook. It was too cold and too dark and too late for any human activity, but she carefully checked for danger before she shut off her bike and removed her helmet, hooking it over one handlebar.

She rested her chin in her hand and cracked her neck first one way and then the other. When the tension loosened, she leaned back a little and turned her face to the sky. Somewhere, monsters howled beneath its fullness. The umbral shadow cast red light across the face of the moon and she shivered for a whole new reason.

Blood on the moon.

Hope clenched her hands into fists; inside her gloves, her fingers ached. When she looked down, she caught sight of the moon reflected in the chrome of her bike, a smear of red that became something else entirely as she watched it.

Death lurked, torn flesh and broken bones and monsters in the darkness, but she still did not see for whom it waited.

She slammed her helmet on again and kicked the bike to life. The highway stretched before her long and dark, but she had miles to go before she knew Bea was safe.

#
Hope was nearly frozen solid the next night by the time she turned the corner and got her first glimpse of the house. All the main lights were off, but in each window glowed an electric candle, the warm light reaching out into the darkness to guide her home.

She pulled her bike around to the garage on the side of the house and shut it off with a low sigh. Last ride of the season and it was too damn cold. She would switch out the bike for the truck for any hunting over the next few months. It didn’t feel as good, trapped in a box, but it was better than freezing her damn tits off.

Her leather boots creaked as she swung off the bike. They were worn in, almost worn out, but they did her well enough. The boots, the bike, Bea waiting for her somewhere inside, they’d all seen her through some tight spots.

It was unnaturally cold and the sky gray with heavy clouds. In the distance a train whistle rose in a mournful cry and doubt trailed its way down her spine. The danger remained, and she would have to admit to Bea she had no leads on how to stop it.

The back door was unlocked for her, the kitchen empty and quiet. She shed helmet, gloves, boots, and coat there, and padded in her sock feet upstairs. Sure enough, Bea’s bedroom was full of light, real candles on nightstand and dresser and windowsills. They flickered as the air stirred when she opened the door and again when she closed it. She sank against it, exhaustion laying down on her bones.

Bea came out of the bathroom and opened her arms. Hope pushed off the door and crossed the room to her; Bea enveloped her in a hug so strong and so warm it stole her breath. Bea kneaded her fingers into Hope’s back.

“You’re freezing,” she said, and hugged her closer still.

“Little chilly out there,” Hope mumbled into Bea’s shoulder.

“Well then you’re going to love this.” Bea squeezed her once more, and then guided her into the bathroom. More candles lit the room and steam rose gently from the claw-footed tub. The air smelled delightfully of vanilla and lime.

Bea kissed Hope’s temple. “Clean up, warm up. I’ll be waiting.”

Alone in the bathroom, Hope stripped down, leaving her layers in a cold, dirty heap by the door. She eased herself into the tub until the water came up to her chin and let herself relax for the first time since she’d last left Bea’s sanctuary.

She was no closer to finding any answers than she had been then, but the world hadn’t ended yet and as she did every year, Bea kept the candles burning from sunset to sunrise, so sure in her belief that the longest night would end and daylight would return.

Hope let herself fall into that belief and the safety of home.

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