From Where the Stars Fall (Temporary Title) Chapter 2
Ah, Favershim what a sh*thole. The proud gleaming city stood as a magnificent monument of how far the mighty had risen and how far they had fallen. The bright metropolitan area shined brilliant in the distance while the shadow lands of its lower east side lay in a permanent state of urban decay. The girl slithered out of the dark alleyway and onto the open dingy street with a look of determination fixed upon her black brow. She strolled along the small brittle cobblestone street caked thick with stagnant mud and god knows what, sewage most likely it certainly smelled the part. Oh god the smell of the streets was caustic! The packed street heavy with sweaty unwashed bodies stomping around in the lingering stench of raw human sewage was enough to make one sick. The girl scrunched her nose passing a particularly vile area by her boots and turned her eyes away from the ground to the sky. The world above lay misted in a thick smoggy embrace that gripped the entire city and fueled by the coal black smoke from leaning chimneys and factory towers. It was a shame; on a good night one could see a star or two fighting to shine it’s light beside the moon hanging in the eternal sepia tinted sky but not tonight. No tonight the last of the summer days would rear it’s ugly head blowing in the muggy humidity and the stale air through the city before the crisp chill of autumn took its course.
Block by block she passed rows of tenements lined up between narrow alleys each one in a different stage of decomposition; all grey weathered look a likes with filthy windows and peeling paint rolling in great curls up the creaky structure. She turned a corner stepping over a very questionable puddle before making her way to the broad promenade illuminated in red lighting and packed tight with hundreds of people. The intense scent of cigarette smoke and liquor met with the cheap perfume and the sickeningly sweet smell of poppy milk hit her immediately as she entered Favershim’s red-light district. Brothels lined the corners each painted some ungodly gaudy shade of red or pink or gold that was chipping away with wear. The whores who walked the street looked no better than the decaying slums around them, girls who looked no younger than twelve and no older than thirty stood at their respected corners half starved and sporting stained loosely laced stays. Most of the older ones bore crooked smiles filled with missing teeth while the others left in place had yellowed into a solid tint of sickly yellow. The girl made her way down the street passing some with freshly bruised and battered faces hidden under bright rouge smashed upon their cheeks. It could have been a rough john or a violent pimp or a street fight with another whore but in the end who cared she certainly didn’t but the poor things did look awful and too young to be getting into such trouble. The rest of the street teamed with activity of exchanges, people threw themselves into alleys to exchange flesh for pocket change, the surly johns groping at their laced bodices while the ladies of the night felt them right up each bearing no shame. Their disgusting breaths of liquor and poppy milk mingled with the stench of the city added to the already putrid odor.
It was at the corner between the colorfully dressed whores that something odd caught her eye; it was a young boy standing atop a large wooden crate with a small stack of unread newspapers at his side. The boy looked to be about twelve or so, he was rather cute with a face full of freckles and a shaggy mop of sandy hair tucked under a newsboy’s cap but much too skinny for a kid his age to be. His smile said it all; the teeth were crooked but formed a mischievous smile that was rather infectious the longer she stared at it. “Lookey whot I got ‘ere ladies an’ gents, fresh from this mornin’s stall its The Favershim Fever printed daily! Read all ‘bout it! Don’t be shy ladies an’ gents jus’ a couple coppers fer world class news,” he shouted from his box shaking around the printed newspaper in hand with passionate intensity. The girl crossed her arms and approached bearing a smirk upon her mouth “Oi whot are ye doin’ sellin’ the bloody mornin’ paper in the middle o’ the night boy?” The boy looked up at her with his contagious smile and crossed his arms “Well It ain’t none o’ yer d*mn business lady unless ye wanna buy one, if yer real nice I’ll give it to ye fer a discounted rate. Pretty ladies always get a discount from me iffin’ they’re lookin’ to buy.” Oh this kid was good, he was defiantly a salesman and might actually make something out of himself one day. The girl grinned clearly amused and crossed her arms in return “ye cheeky b*stard I bet ye didn’t sell all o’ ‘em all an’ now yer scramblin’ to get rid o’ ‘em off before yer employer tans yer ‘ide.”
“Why don’t ye ‘elp a fella out aye? Buy a paper an’ save me beautiful ass from bein’ beaten black an’ blue. Whot d’ya say lady?”
“Hmmm. Well a temptin’ offer that may be, I’ll bite whot does the bloody paper say then?”
“Buy it an’ find out fer yerself misses”
“Do I look like the bloody type o’ person who knows ‘ow to read? This is a cheapside slum mate yer d*mn stupid if ye think you’ll get a customer ‘ere who knows ‘ow to read. Tell me whot the bloody story is already or I ain’t gonna buy yer paper. Well? Speak up boy I’m waitin’ ” she snapped rather harshly while her hands clenched into soft fists then looked away, this was wasting precious time but she wanted to know what the boy would say. The boy stood silent for a moment as his eyes assessed the situation, he grinned again then let out a low chuckle. “Och! An’ ye think I know whot this gibberish says either? I can’t read neither but if ye want to know, some gents who done bought it earlier where sayin’ it’s ‘bout some weird stuff goin’ on in “Arrisburg. Apparently there was some strange meteor shower over the city. They says it’s a phe-phe-phenom… Ah d*mmit! Some fancy word fer some rare weather. Now that’s that, That’ll be four coppers now lady” he said holding out his palm and gave her an impish grin waiting in great anticipation for his pay. The girl let out a chuckle and smiled “an’ that’s it? That’s whot made the front page? A bunch o’ lame weather reports, whot a rip off. Fine fine ye got yer money’s worth kid.” She dug through her pockets pulling out four dull copper coins pressing each one down onto his palm then took the promised paper from his stack. “Ye know if ye wanna sell more papers to this side o’ town you’ll ‘ave to do much better than to say it’s fer readin’. Tell ‘em blokes it’s fer wrappin’ up their leftover slop or to wipe their assess in the privy or somethin’ like that. I guarantee it’ll be much better than sellin’ readin’ to the illiterate cheapside masses.” The girl folded up the paper tucking it under her arm while the newsboy took in her words methodically with another wily smile “Aye… I’ll take that in mind miss, a pleasure doin’ business wit ye.” The girl chuckled as she walked away and stuffed her hands into her ratty tan overcoat, that kid had enough charisma to charm anyone maybe he would be that lucky one to work his way out of the slums to something decent, she hoped so.
She continued down the block while the rest of the city was screaming with different sounds. From the roar of distant motorcar engines in passing, the loud clanks of machinery in late night factories down to general drone of voices from every soul in the d*mn area. She however focused in on the much fainter and daresay pleasant sounds that the city offered like the clicking of people’s heels rushing down the cobblestone or the faint buzzing of the electric wiring hanging above their heads or the distant whir of a zeppelin hovering over the sepia stained clouds. The slums however produced a much different sound than that of the sky or the shining area to the west, it screamed. It screamed from the sounds of domestic disturbances in thin walled tenements, the cries of babies too hungry to sleep, and the purposeless shuffling stumbles of drunks and poppy milk addicts. It screamed from the sounds of clanging coal carts drawn by long rusted mechanical horses and men tinkering away at the midnight oil. It screamed from the sounds of the homeless beggars who squat in the sh*t lined alleys bundled around old metal bins of trash fires. It screamed with the worn and weary faces of the poor sucking down then smoke of the city before blowing it back from their pipes and cigarettes. It screamed. It was disgusting, wretched, cruel, and it was home…well for now at least.
The girl walked down the rest of the street ignoring the general drone and passing several unsavory characters on her way. There it was, the corner of Cheapside and west Chesterson where her destination laid access to it was however blocked as though the whole street was gathered in a large circle to watch a fight proceed. In the center of that circle stood two prostitutes. One appeared to be the rare lived age of thirty who bore a sickly gaunt color to her face under her smudged red and blue paints while the other was fresh-faced and no older than fifteen also caked with powder and rogue. If she had to guess they were both named Olympia, after all it seemed every d*mn whore and harlot on the bloody continent was named Olympia. It seemed as though one Olympia had stepped over into another Olympia’s territory. “Whot ye think yer doin’ ‘angin’ ‘round me corner! Yer new ‘ere girl so bugger off” the older one spat out viciously hacking out a loud cough and pushed back the younger. The younger Olympia gasped and shoved her back hard “listen ye ruddy ol’ bat don’t ye be tellin’ me whot t’do, this ain’t got yer name on it... an’ even if it did it’s my name too!”
“Bloody young sod ye think ye know ‘ow this works? Ye ain’t no seniority ‘ere I’ve been ‘ere longer so this is my f**kin’ corner!”
“Seniority my ass! This place needs a fresh pair o’ thighs anyways why do they all ‘and ‘around yer sorry droopin’ crotch huh? Ye been ‘ere long enough ye probably givin’ ‘em all the pox ye ugly ol’ hag!”
The older Olympia jumped grabbing at the younger’s hair and the fistfight ensued, each clawing and biting going for cheap shots. At this rate she’d never get inside, the girl and through the brawling girls who seemed to stop the moment they were interrupted. Their bloodlust turned to her instead “whot d’ya think ye are doin’ ye bloody slut! Ye tryin’ to inch in on me territory too? I’ll gut ye like a sow ye ugly lil’ b*tch!” The girl turned her attention to the older one who had addressed her; she could feel the rage boiling inside of her. Her hands clenched tightly into fists and her cheeks reddened in fury, this was not the time to test her but the whore continued “I’ll gut ye an’ the lil’ tart over the-. Without a word the girl swiftly grabbed the older Olympia by her ratty hair and shoved her face hard into the broken brick building. She smashed it in repeatedly until her face drew blood before shoving her to the ground; the girl sent a vengeful kick to her ribs her cheeks now red with fury. The older Olympia was down and was smart enough to stay down while she spat up blood, the younger back down immediately with a look of terror on her painted face. The girl hurled a wad of spit at the fallen woman then pushed her way towards her destination angrily stuffing her newspaper and hands into her coat pockets. The path now opened for her and straight ahead laid the Hag’s Hole Inn.
The Hag’s Hole Inn, a name fitting of its lewd location bearing a matching welcome sign carved in wood of a bawdy older woman bearing an enormous rack and steins in hand. It was a decrepit building like the rest around it painted what once looked to be a rich butter yellow which had since aged and worn into a dull brown as the others around had. The place too was packed with people. The men sipped at barely cleaned tin steins filled with frothy ale and bar maids clad in dark greens and aprons buzzed around with trays of food and beer swishing around to avoid the grabs and pinches of the more foreword customers. The girl walked in with a sigh of relief taking a seat at the corner table motioning the barmaid for a stein of something strong, she needs it to last thought the rest of the night. With a frothy stein of ale in hand she leaned back in her seat and begins to look for her target. Each face is not his; he wasn’t here as the man had said. The bloody b*stard had lied! None of these people were him and she could feel the rage again boil away inside. God all of these idiots in one room was hell. The drunken dregs of society all mixed together in some idiotic stupor; there was nothing more appealing than to gut the whole lot of them in her stewing state. A whole lot of nothing… nothing… nothing but then in the corner of her eye there he was. Bartholomew Curtis Coote sitting dead center of the chaotic bar and the edge of her mouth twisted into a wicked smile. She had found her prey at long last.
Bartholomew Curtis Coote, a man perhaps entering into his mid fifties with silver streaked hair and an overly round face. He is a larger man with arms thick like tree trunks and the beginnings of a scruffy silver beard. He sits alone among the pandemonium with a stein of half finished ale and a plate of cold food looking as nervous a wreck as one could be in a situation like this. Everything about his body language told her so, he slouches over the table with a death grip on him stein handle while his fingers on the other hand tap against the wooden table quickly most likely in sync with the fast beating of his heart. His eyes look around anxiously for a familiar face among the crowd, of his guide out of the city, of the man she had so quickly disposed of. Of what relation was the guide to him other than a use, the man while under her interrogation had a look of longing love for the man he was to smuggle out. What were they? Brothers bound in blood, a longtime friend in need, a lover in desperation to save the man he loved, or was this all a cold hard business deal she was reading to far into? Whatever the case it didn’t matter anymore he was dead in that black encased building and soon enough so would Bartholomew. He began to seat a bit around the brow and wiping off his palms against his worn grey trousers, things are not looking bright in his eyes she can tell that things are not going according to plan. She pulls out her newspaper from her pocket unfolding it and feigns an interest in its nonsensical scribbles; let him stir for a bit while she decides how to isolate the target. How to best isolate him would be tricky, the barmaids and whores who approached him were met with anxious and offensive remarks. His standoffish front would make luring him up under the guise of a good time would not work, she’d have to wait for him to move and let him be the one to be pick the remote location. For what felt like an hour, the jittery man’s face stated all she needed to know his friend was too late for comfort and something had definitely gone wrong It was perfect, she could sense his unease it hit the senses like a foul odor. A look of paranoia seemed to convert his eyes as he canvassed the room once more looking for any sign of hope. He turns around with a shaky breath and comes face to face with his hunter. Their eyes meet for a brief moment; to throw off suspicion she sends him the sweetest smile she could muster before looking away back to her newspaper. He jerked his head back fixating on the table, he cannot wait any longer and with that in mind he swigs down the last of his ale with a shaky hand then bolts for the door. The hunt is finally upon her and she too slinks out far enough for him to feel somewhat easy but close enough to never loose sight of him. Down the street he walks with a nervous quickness in his step, he turns several corners and it is clear he is following through with the plan without his companion, what a foolish mistake. With each twist and turn through the sharp alleys his pace quickens, he senses something is after him but cannot make any sense about it. Each block going a bit faster until the very end of Favershim is met. Freedom only lay a few miles away through the out skirted forest and hilltops beside the rotting slums. He turned and exhaled sharply in horror, he was right he was being followed. He trembles a bit before taking off into a cold sprint into the pitch-blackness of the trees; the air here was not as smoggy as that of the city providing the prey with a few glimmers of illumination of the moon and a handful of stars. He ran, sprinting through bushes and hoping over fallen logs the fool had trapped himself in the d*mned forest and from the looks of it all seemed lost. He tries to shake her off zigzagging through the maze of forest and steep hillside for what seemed to be an hour but found he too was getting progressively more lost with each turn, there was no sign of the original trail to be found.
He slows to see she is no longer there; she had seemed to vanish in mid air. His hands begin to shake with relief stopping to finally catch his breath, where the h*ll was he? There was no sign of anything familiar, he took a slow breath and spied the hill in front of him perhaps he could climb to the top and spy a way back on track. With that in mind he began sprinting once more to the steep hill and preceded to scale it’s side. The bloody fool wouldn’t know what hit him, there stood the girl in the shadows of lower shrubs, the idiot had opened himself in open view and she now had the perfect shot. She pulled out her revolver cocking the hammer back and aimed for his fat head. One finger on the trigger then… BOOM! The loud echo of a crash rang through the entire forest but the sound did not come from her gun. Startled she let out a gasp then turned her attention to the source of the sound where another crash pangs through the air this one much louder. The girl let out a sharp sound of horror and takes off running in the opposite direction as fast as her legs could carry here. The sky above was growing brighter; a massive blinding light was falling from the heavens at an intense speed right for the hilltop where her target was now trapped. She zigzagged through the trees until the loud deafening blast smashed into the hill followed by push of a massive force that followed sent everything around it flying through the air. The girl let out a scream as she too was swept into the massive current flow colliding into the side of a tree and everything fades to blackness. Ringing, there is a strange ringing in her ears as the blurry world around her regains a more level and stable axis. There is a throbbing pain on her left side but the world had finally stopped spinning and the ring began to fade slowly. She blinked several times until her etes were capable enough to see clearly again. The forest around her was gone, the trees around her a partially charred with their tips and licked with orange fire, toward the hilltop the area is rubble, ash, and trees torn completely from their trunks. She girl staggered to her feet with a loud groan and began to feel around for injury. There was bruising, definite bruising all over her body but nothing broken or burned she had barely escaped. What the bloody h*ll happened? The girl let out a shaky breath making her way towards the destruction that had leveled a small half of the hill. The area is thick with rubble and it proves to be a difficult climb up, the face of her side of the hill seemed to be intact but what lay on the other side was a mystery. She climbed up carefully reaching the very top, Bartholomew on the other hand had not been so lucky, he too was at the top or at least half of him was. The blast had ripped him nearly in half and what was left of him was now a smoldering charred body, he was nearly unrecognizable. The girl gulped nervously, feeling quite sick to her stomach at the sight of his blackened remains and dared to peer over the side of the hill. The trees that had so densely covered the area were completely gone with not a lick of ash to remember them by but what now lay in their place was a massive silver shining crater. She took a step closer and gasped in absolute horror. All sides of the crater seemed to be lined with soft silvery glass from the impact that stretched for nearly a half mile and lying in its center was a man. The man from where she could tell looked to be unconscious; everything about him was unnervingly unearthly. His skin was rather pale and tinged with what looked to be gold; his hair too was moon white without a speck of any color in it. His clothing looked foreign but it was hard to tell under as they were singed and spotted with black soot. The girl let out a shaky breath and immediately went for her knife she had hooked onto her belt beside her revolver “w-whot the bloody h*ll is that!”