Bulls Rush In
Publication Date—Apr 28, 2015
John Charming. Ex knight. Current monster hunter.
John’s past is complicated enough, so he tries to keep life simple: Find monster. Kill Monster. But when he wanders into Vista Verde, a small town with a big secret, he soon discovers that the simple answer is a load of bull.
This is a short story from contemporary fantasy author, Elliott James, within his Pax Arcana world. The first of his novels, Charming and Daring, are available now.
Word count: ~8500
Once Upon a Time, Samuel Blanco lived in a cave, or at least a small, dark house with all of the curtains drawn. The home was squatting brown and unadorned in a residential neighborhood that was technically lower class but not really; most of Samuel’s neighbors were retirees, young couples, and Latino families who had come to the area because of the furniture and textile factories, and they were still fighting the good fight against entropy. The houses might be old, but their windows were intact, their lawns were mowed, and nothing was rusting in the front yard. In fact, almost all of the homes had flowers planted in front of them instead of “For Sale” signs. It was why the word “RETARD” painted on Samuel’s driveway was such a shame. Some effort had been made to blast that ugly slur off the pavement with a pressure sprayer, but you could still see the faded outline from thirty feet away.
It was raining pretty heavily because it was fall, but also because I’d hung around for several days waiting for it to rain heavily, and I’m the one who gets to decide when to start telling this story. Neighborhood watch signs were posted around – there had been a lot of petty vandalism like the example in Samuel’s driveway recently – but I didn’t see any actual signs of neighbors or anyone watching. So I went up to Samuel Blanco’s house and let myself in.
“So you admit to breakin’ and enterin’?” I was being interrogated across a small table in a smaller room by Jim Reedy, a deputy with the Verde Vista Sheriff’s office. Verde Vista was a small mountain town in West Virginia, pronounced Vur-duh Viss-tuh rather than like the Spanish name it was even though thirty percent of the town residents were from Nicaragua or El Salvador or Mexico. I only mention that because I spent two months picking pumpkins outside the town limits, and Verde Vista’s name was the most interesting thing about the place. Deputy Reedy looked like he was in his late twenties and maybe 5 foot 9 if he stretched. His chest was big, his head was small, and his biceps were the size of baby cantaloupes. He had probably played football for the Verde Vista Whatevers.
“So you’re not gonna give me some load of bull about bein’ drunk and the door bein’ unlocked and you thinkin’ it was your house?” He seemed to find my apparent cooperation a little disappointing.
“No.” I took a sip of my coffee, more to finish it before it cooled down than anything else. Warmth was about the only thing the coffee had going for it.
“And you do know this is bein’ recorded, right? You heard that part about havin’ a right to an attorney, right?” Deputy Reedy persisted.
“Right,” I agreed.
He settled back in his seat, a little nonplussed. “So why were you there, Mr. Morris?”
“Because my real name is John Charming,” I told him. “And I’m a monster hunter.”