- Age: 16
- Species: Human
- Weapons: Her wolf, Minna
- Special Attack: Using the forest to her advantage
- Can communicate with the trees
- Accompanied by her loyal wolf
- Can summon fire spirits
- Young and inexperienced
- No combat training or weapons to speak of
- Age: 20s
- Species: Human
- Weapons: Precognition, and a really bad attitude
- Special Attack: A murder (of crows)
- Able to control birds
- Can see the moment & circumstances of anyone's death
- Self-destructive and depressive
- She's had a bad run, to put it lightly
- Though she can see people's deaths, she can't change them. Usually.
By Michael J. Sullivan
When Suri spotted the woman with torn blue pants, tight bloodstained shirt, and hair a little too blonde, she knew for certain this was one of the Odd Days. They happened occasionally—mornings that started wrong and kept rolling downhill toward the truly bizarre. That day had begun very oddly. Suri had met a peculiar woman named Scarlett who had been lost in more ways than one, and then she was gone. Now, there was a new visitor in the forest.
“What do you think, Minna?” Suri asked the wolf as the two peered at the stranger through the leaves.
The woman sat with her back against a log, breathing hard. Three slashes across her stomach were bleeding badly, and she clutched her midsection, trying to keep her insides from becoming outsides.
Minna sniffed the air and took a step back.
Suri scowled. “She doesn’t smell that bad. Besides, she looks fascinating—like daydream meets nightmare interesting.”
Suri leapt to the log the woman was lying against and trotted up its length with Minna just behind.
“Holy fucking shit!” The bleeding woman tried to retreat, and cringed in pain from the effort. She appeared to barely notice Suri, as her attention was completely focused on Minna.
Suri frowned and turned to the wolf. “What language is that, do you think? Or is it just gibberish? Maybe she’s—”
“Get your fucking dog away from me, bitch!” A hawk burst through the forest canopy and swooped close enough to catch Minna’s attention. “Don’t you understand leash laws? Thing probably has rabies. What the hell’s wrong with you? I’m bleeding here. Can’t a woman hemorrhage to death in a forest in peace without being harassed by—who did you say you were?”
“I’m Suri. This is Minna. She doesn’t have any ray bees, but if you need them we could search for some. Are they like honey bees? We have plenty of those.”
“Bees? Are you kidding me?” Shocked, the woman craned her neck looking around. “Oh, my fucking god! I’m in Florida, aren’t I?”
“You worship a god named Fucking?”
“Ha, well don’t we all?” The woman burst into laughter, and then winced and screamed from the pain. “Stop with the jokes, kid. You’re killing me here. Listen. I was attacked, okay? A queen bitch carved me up like Edward Scissorhands going for second base on a first date. Please tell me you’ve got a cell phone and good 911 service.”
Suri shook her head.
“Then I don’t suppose you have a fist full of Vicodin hidden in that grungy cape and leather costume, do you? Oh, nice belt, by the way. Are those real teeth?”
Suri made a puzzled face that she shared with Minna, who chose to remain silent on the matter. Not surprising, as she was a very wise wolf.
“Cat got your tongue?” the woman asked.
“I don’t think so.” Suri stuck out her tongue and touched it. “Nope, still there.”
“Stop it. Stop it,” the woman pleaded as she was once more racked with laughter, clutching her stomach and grimacing in pain. “Seriously, you have to stop the cornball routine, you’re torturing me here. At this point, I’d rather have a Glock and help putting its barrel between my teeth.”
The hawk returned, but this time settled on the bare branch of the maple across from them. The hawk was a stranger, but the maple was a friend.
“Who are you?” Suri asked.
“I’m Miriam. Miriam Black. Ha! Listen to me; I sound like goddamn James Bond.” She looked down at her shredded shirt that might have once been white but was now mostly blood. “This must be the end of the fucking film. The part where the bomb is about to blow the shit out of Tokyo and I’ve only got minutes to save the day. You know what?” She looked at Suri and glanced at Minna. “Fuck Tokyo.”
“You’re very religious, aren’t you, Miriam Miriam Black?” She thought a moment. “I guess your mom had a stutter, huh?
Miriam burst into laughter again, and just as before, screamed in pain. “Stop that shit. You’re killing me!”
Suri and Minna exchanged a look. This wasn’t an Odd Day at all. Suri had somehow entered a celebration of the bizarre, and this woman had been crowned queen of the fair. She had to be from the dahl. Hers was the breed of crazy that came from wearing shoes and living her entire life inside a wall. The woman should go back there. Maybe someone from her village could make sense out of her crazy talk. Suri didn’t understand half the words this nutty woman said. “Give me your hand. I’ll help you back to Rhen.”
Suri reached out, but Miriam jerked back. “Nothing personal, but I don’t like touching people. Even people who wash, which… you don’t appear to have done in quite some time.”
Suri nodded in understanding. “Roan’s like that, too. Never try to give her a hug. Bad childhood.”
Miriam nodded. “Been there. Done that. But that’s not the problem. I mean it is, but it isn’t. At least not right now. Look, kid, you seem nice. I’ll level with you. When I touch people, I see how they die, and honestly that’s baggage I could do without, okay?”
For the first time Miriam was making sense, well sort of. Suri had no idea what a baggage was, maybe it was a big cabbage. “I tell the future too, but I use bones. Birds’ bones mostly.”
“Did you say birds?” Miriam stole a glance at the hawk still on the branch watching them.
“You know her?” Suri asked.
“We just met, but you might say I have a way with our feathered friends. Apparently you have the same sort of relationship with—with—what is that anyway? A husky?”
“Minna’s a wolf, and she’s my sister.”
“Your mother really got around, didn’t she? Holiday dinners must be awkward. Does everyone sit together at the table, or do you all just lie on the floor and rip a lamb apart with your teeth? Bet your favorite movie is The Jungle Book, isn’t it?” She laughed again and the pain seemed to be worse. Miriam’s face was pale. She kept closing her eyes and slowly lifting the lids again.
“You’re not looking too good. What happened to you?” Suri asked.
“Hell if I know. I was back at my old school, being chased. Not even sure why—but that’s an Alice-in-Wonderland-travelogue-for-another-day. But the short story is this fucking Wolverine-wannabe started slicing the shit out of me.” She looked down. “And I had just washed this shirt.”
Suri had been paying close attention to all the words that time, and she knew most of them, but still was having trouble with their meaning. “You were attacked by a wolverine?”
Miriam laughed again. She shuddered from the pain, grabbing at her butchered stomach. “Stop it. Stop it. God, you’re a sadistic little Mowgli, aren’t you? Every time I laugh it rips me apart. Look, I’m bleeding worse now. Shit.” She lifted her hands and they were indeed slicker than before.
“Gotta stop this bleeding. C’mon you look like the sort to have some sort of bone-needle and catgut on you. I need to get sewn up, or I’m not gonna make it.”
“Don’t have any cats, and I’m not a healer. I’m a mystic. Now that Tura’s gone I think I’m the only one in Rhen. Padera could do something, but we’d have to get you back to the dahl.”
“Oh, great. I’m dying and the only aid around is a hippy-dippy crystal gazer and her pet Lassie. Must be Monday. Hey, at least give me a hand, will you? I’ve got a pack of cigs in my pocket. Can you get them out for me? I so want to blow fuck you smoke rings for everyone who said I’d die of lung cancer.”
“You have pockets! Roan invented pockets.”
“Really? Maybe I should skip the cigarettes and try what you’re smoking.”
Suri took the brightly colored box out of Miriam’s pocket and found tiny white sticks inside. She pulled one out and held it up. “Is this what you want?”
“Yeah, put it in my mouth and light the end. Do you have a lighter?”
“Like a lamp?”
“No, like a match.”
Suri held up her hands. “My hands match. So do my eyes. Does that count?”
“Jesus kid, I mean something to start a fire.”
“Oh, I can ask the fire spirit to come. Would you like that?”
“Whatever trips your trigger just so long as I get one last puff before I pass out.”
Suri closed her eyes, rubbed her palms together, and then clapped. The moment she did, the end of the white stick in the woman’s mouth caught fire. The flame went out as Miriam sucked on the end. Blue smoke exited her nose, and a sigh escaped her lips. “Thanks, kid. I owe you.” When she took the stick out of her mouth, the end was bloody.
“You want me to run to the dahl and get your parents? Do they live in Rhen? They’re probably worried about you.”
The blood-covered white stick fell, as Miriam laughed one last time. A sad, bitter sound. That did it. Miriam slumped and then lay still. The hawk flew away, and the wind rolled the cigarette out of Miriam’s hand, which in death had curled into a partial fist with only the middle finger extended.